Jones Going Strong After All These Years

three-year plan to get the team back on its feet. Truth be known, even Schramm grunted that day Landry dropped the bomb, privately having hoped his head coach would step down.

Like who could fire Landry?

Jones did, flying to meet the team's only coach in Austin that Saturday morning to do the dirty work Bright should have done before completing the deal. But no, Jones thought that was the honorable thing to do, yet afterward saying of the awkward moment while accompanied by Schramm, "It was the most inadequate conversation I ever had in my life."

But for those who cared to listen, there was another side to Jones not known by most this side of the Arkansas and Oklahoma borders. After all, oilmen hold very few press conferences. They also don't have an exposé written on their lives.

During the days leading up to Feb. 25, Jerry Jones went from some guy who was the president of Arkoma Exploration to a "serious bidder" of the Dallas Cowboys to the "likely buyer" the day before the sale was announced.

Many of those quoted about Jones ended up dead on.

There was this anonymous source saying before the sale became official, "Things are about to change. If Jerry buys the team, things won't be the same."

Or this from longtime friend Tommy Robinson, U.S. representative from Arkansas, who said, "If he buys the Cowboys, the Cowboys will be No. 1 again. I can assure you of that."

Or this: "Jerry is one of the hardest working individuals I've ever been associated with."

Twenty years later, no one would call them liars or embellishers of the truth.

Within three years, the Cowboys would win their first playoff game since 1982, beating the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in the first round of the 1991 playoffs.

Within four years the Cowboys would win their first Super Bowl since the 1977 season, beating the Buffalo Bills following the 1992 season.

Within seven years the Cowboys would become the first team in NFL history to win three Super Bowls in a four-year span, and proceed to become the Team of the Decade in the 90s, not only finishing with three Super Bowl titles, but playing in four NFC title games, winning six NFC East Division titles and qualifying for the playoffs eight times in those 10 years - missing a ninth (in 1990) by one win.

They would produce two Pro Football Hall of Fame players, Aikman and wide receiver Michael Irvin, and by next year a third, too, in Emmitt Smith, who undoubtedly will become a first ballot selection as the NFL's all-time leading rusher - all under Jones' watch.

On to top all this off, Jones turned the Cowboys from a failing franchise financially, trying to climb out of that $20 million debt, into the NFL's top valued club, according to Sports Business Journal, valued in excess of $1 billion dollars.

And on top off all that, Jones' legacy to the Dallas Cowboys will open in June, the new Cowboys stadium in Arlington, Texas, capable of seating 100,000 fans and coming in at a cost of $1.1 billion.

Now there will be Jones detractors surfacing on Wednesday and for the rest of the week for sure, most hesitant to point out how the Cowboys owner could have played it safe 20 years later instead of putting himself on the hot seat once again with his $750 million investment in the new stadium.

They will point out how the Cowboys have failed to win a playoff game in 12 years, the last postseason victory coming in 1996, representing the longest drought in club history. And they surely will hold his feet to the fire for the disappointing 2008 season, everyone's Super Bowl favorites finishing out of the playoffs at 9-7 and now being labeled dysfunctional.

But as is his custom, Jones will face his critics head on, just as he did 20 years ago when he was being blasted by three very visible newspapers in the Metroplex at the time, and especially by some highly-respected and salty columnists who had risen to such high voices by covering the Cowboys, well, forever to that point.

The howling had become so bad and so intense, especially that first year when Jones and

nearly over, especially if you remember working long into your 70s is in his family genes.

Jones will never sit idly by, nor far from the limelight or interrogation lights, whichever they might be, as he was last week when announcing George Strait to open the new stadium and talking about where he's been and where he's going.

"Getting out front with it, and we know when you're out front and it doesn't work, you're going to pay the price," Jones said. "It's not exactly after 20 years finding a nice little soft corner to sit in and just basically coach some football out here for the next 20 years.

"What it is, is stepping on the out and trying to do something that's a little inordinate. Trying."

So maybe his word is the best word to sum up these past 20 years: Inordinate, or as the dictionary tells us "exceeding reasonable limits."

Trying, too, since no one can ever accuse Jones of not trying.

We should all be so lucky to do each to his extent, and some of us who have been along for the ride certainly have been lucky, because as we were told days before the sale of the Dallas Cowboys became official on Feb. 25, 1989, "If Jerry buys the team, things won't be the same."

Truer words were never spoken after all these years.

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