Despite being on the verge of tears three times during his opening press conference of Dallas Cowboys' training camp in Oxnard, California, an emotional Jerry Jones wouldn't place Super-Bowl-or-bust expectations on his 2021 team.
"I'd do anything known to man to get to a Super Bowl," Jones said. "That's a fact."
While getting the Cowboys to Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles' SoFi Stadium next February remains the goal, Jones' habit of affixing extra pressure to players or head coach Mike McCarthy has dwindled.
"I've always had to be pragmatic at the end of the day, because if not, you'll end up on the outside looking in. You have to be real," Jones said. "But on the other hand, I've never thought that we couldn't be better or never thought that we couldn't make it happen, even when we were not on paper or we weren't as technically as good or sound. But I've never thought that, and I've got too many examples of how short-handed people have knocked them out of the park before. A lot of them. In a lot of different areas. I really don't know that I have any days or have any weeks where I don't think, 'There's a pony in here somewhere.' You have a lot of days where you ask yourself, 'What are you doing in the middle of this?' That has served me well. This isn't an 'I, me,' but I've had a lot of people tell me, 'You're naive,' or say, 'He's naive.' Well, it's a beautiful world. ... It's a better world to be naive than to be skeptical and be negative all the time."
During the hour-long press conference, Jones also choked up when discussing former coach Jimmy Johnson's tenure with the Cowboys. Johnson, of course, is headed to the Pro Football Hall of Fame next month.
The Cowboys play the Pittsburgh Steelers there Aug. 5.
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Since their infamous breakup after winning consecutive Super Bowls in 1992-93, it's the closest Jones has tip-toed toward directly and solely accepting blame for short-circuiting the Cowboys' dynasty.
"Well, I just think of those great times, and Jimmy's a great coach," Jones said. "Ridiculous. My role here was, my job was to keep it together. It was my job. Should have had deference to something that was working good. Those are the things that come to my mind. We had a great run of it. He's a great coach, and I'm proud to have him as a friend, and proud to have had the times that we had. We just had a great experience."
As for 2021 Jones is characteristically optimistic, based mostly on the healthy returns of quarterback Dak Prescott and offensive linemen Tyron Smith, La'el Collins and Zack Martin, and the addition of new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.
"I think we got a way to make it work big for this season," Jones said. "I think we got a chance to be a really good team."