IRVING, Texas – For the first time in five years, and for just the third time since the 1996 season, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will have his team in the NFC Divisional Playoff round.
As he sat down with reporters on Thursday, his excitement and anxiousness couldn't be hidden.
Jones talked for nearly 40 minutes on a variety of topics. Here are some of the highlights:
- Jones reacted to the recent Mueller Report, which found no evidence of the NFL witnessing the Ray Rice video before it went public. The report should also clear NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and his staff of any wrongdoings with their investigations.
The report validated what the owners knew all along about Roger: That he was honest throughout the process, and he acted in a fair and thorough manner," Jones said. "The report also concluded that the process could have been better, which Roger has acknowledged all along. And changes to the process have been made and we all throughout the league know that this area of domestic violence is one that we have a serious responsibility to, and changes we've made are acting accordingly.
- With the Cowboys on a five-game winning streak, Jones has said several times that he wants to make sure New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, an avid Cowboys fan, remains with the team and accompanies him in his owners suite. But when asked about other superstitions during the winning streak, Jones said he's not above anything that might work.
When you have been doing this for the 25 years that I have been doing it, you have tried them all, Jones said. "You have just about everything your dad left … the same cufflinks, the same rings many, many times. Yes, I'm very superstitious. My best story is (Pat) Summerall had given me some socks. When he was staying at the Crescent (Hotel) he had left his socks at home when he was doing a big game for the Cowboys. And they charged him $300 for two pair. He came out here to our game he was doing with Madden and he gave me one of the pair. So I go in and put those on, and I wore them all the way through the playoffs. I washed them, but I wore them all the way through the playoffs.
- While Jones recognizes the Ice Bowl is a big part of the Packers' history, he said the significance of the game is very meaningful to the Cowboys as well.
It's really a substantive point in the history of the Dallas Cowboys," he said. "With Lombardi involved, with the players that were involved, many of the players who were involved were stalwarts of our tradition. The stories regarding the circumstances around that game are numerous. The bottom line is it was a significant competition that has always reminded me of just what it is we're playing for. Something in the moment, in the time. It's three hours, but can live on for generations and generations. And, that one has. I'd say although we didn't win the game, it's a real legacy of the Cowboys franchise.
- As the general manager of this franchise, Jones has final say on the players who are signed and drafted. So he obviously has a large say in how this team has been built. But he agreed with the question that this current Cowboys franchise, with their ability to run the ball, is built for games like this one Sunday in Green Bay, where temperatures are expected to be well below freezing with wind-chill temps hovering around zero degrees.
Well, I do. And, it's really the elements. Commonsense tells you that if you're handing the ball off rather than throwing it, if you need a little more precision in the handling of the ball on any given play, then I think the running game is the safer way to go, generally speaking," Jones said. "The other thing is that there's a little bit of that traction that is involved. I will tell you that if that field is frozen or you get in frozen situations, running can be more difficult than pitching and catching, throwing the ball. Now, you have to run and go catch it, but you don't necessarily have to be going full speed to move the ball because everybody is limited. We all know that receivers think they have the better edge of it on a wet field, as far as they know where they're cutting. You think about all that. But I think our team is built for weather relative to a team that we had over the last several years.
- One of the players Jones has admitted he wanted to draft was quarterback Johnny Manziel at No. 16. But the Cowboys obviously went for Zack Martin, who not only made the Pro Bowl, but was the only rookie in the NFL to make First-Team All-Pro.
Well Martin has been beyond any expectation that I or anyone else had. There's a lot of people thinking that he might be the best draft pick that they've seen," Jones said. "We had Manziel ahead of Martin on the board. That was part of the lamenting. I had to go against the board. But the complete main reason he wasn't drafted is that I never could reconcile in my mind that day, sitting there, with both Romo and Manziel, how it was going to work for Manziel to be here for the next five, six years and back up Romo. That seems like misplaced assets and misplaced decision there. At the end of the day, that won out there. But, Martin was better than we thought he was.