At the very beginning of her column today on Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones, Washington Post sports columnist Sally Jenkins sets the scene, and she sets it well.
The Dallas Cowboys' home locker room after a game is suffused by a bright halo of light from a wall of TV cameras encircling the central figure in the room. It's not Tony Romo, or DeMarcus Ware, or some other critical player bathed in all that false sun, but owner Jerry Jones, who beats his own team to the microphones just minutes after it comes off the field. Which is when it becomes apparent that the largest column-free structure in the world is not Cowboys Stadium, but rather the self-sustaining ego of the man who built it.
That last line should be etched on Jones' tombstone, but the rest of Jenkins' piece is much kinder to him. It's not just his business acumen either, which has never really been in dispute. Jenkins actually praises Jones for his tenure as general manager.
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She points to the evidence. Sure, the Cowboys have won only two playoff games since their Super Bowl victory in 1995, but they have amassed winning records in six of the past nine seasons and are always in the playoff hunt at the end of the year, which is more than a lot of franchises can say. He's also managed to reinvent a team that was the oldest in the NFL in 2010 by adding 23 players in their early 20s and had the smarts to hire Jimmy Johnson as head coach, however long ago that may have been. And one can't ignore those three Super Bowl rings.
There's a lot to argue with there. The Cowboys' glory days are long gone and, while the team may have had some winning seasons, they have consistently underperformed. Jones typically loads the Cowboys with talent, but he also burdens them with his micromanagement.
Jenkins gets to the heart of things in her conclusion. "Is there is something fundamentally dysfunctional about a man in the locker room whose livelihood is not on the line?" she asks. "Can a team develop heart when the owner consistently tries to make himself their heartbeat?"
One can only hope.