The title of this piece isn’t intended as a revelation. It has been known for some time that Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, and Jimmy Johnson, the team’s former coach and architect of the franchise’s massive success in the 90s, passionately dislike each other. It’s one of the dominant themes of the fantastic book Boys Will Be Boys: The Glory Days and Party Nights of the Dallas Cowboys Dynasty, and it was explored again recently in an incredible article by ESPN writer Don Van Natta Jr.
I’m writing this because, on Thursday, the latest salvo in the artillery battle between these two football titans with their Stalin-like, non-receding grey hairlines was fired, with Jimmy Johnson declaring during a discussion of the 25th anniversary of the trade of Herschel Walker that, “Jerry Jones told me I couldn’t get rid of [him].” (All too predictably, Jones stated the next day on-air that the Herschel move was all his idea.)
To those of you unfamiliar with the Cowboys of the 90s, the trade of Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings for seemingly countless draft picks (known thereafter in football lore simply as “The Trade”) is what got the team the personnel it used to win its three Super Bowls that decade. Jerry Jones’ claim to his role in the success of those years is that it was his management and draft decisions, not Johnson’s, that built the team. So Jimmy’s words roughly translate to, “How many times do I have to make clear that I managed to succeed in Dallas despite having this corn-toothed dunce as my boss, not because of it?”
Nearly two decades have passed since Johnson’s departure from the team, and nearly two decades of on-field impotence have followed, making Jones’ claims ring more and more hollow by the year. (Please note this was written before Dallas’ Sunday win over Seattle, and, according to all Cowboys fans, my statement regarding a lack of on-field success is now patently incorrect and it’s time to start sizing the team for its sixth ring.)
As a Redskins fan, those three Dallas Super Bowl victories were almost worth the shit-show that has followed. To the residents of DC, Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson were the interminably successful power couple that lived on your block and one-upped you in every conceivable avenue of life. The had a nicer house than you. Their jobs paid more. Their kids were doing better in school than your kids. They even looked better than you. Hearing how much they now hate each other is akin to learning that the husband in this metaphorical couple turned out to be gay and left with the pool boy, the wife got disbarred for botching a huge trial and is now penniless and both of their kids dropped out of college to “find themselves.” In other words, it’s the most refreshing cup of Schadenfreude punch you’re ever going to sip.