The madness of King Jerry

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We all know this. Right. Yet we insist on playing the guessing game, asking Galloway and Norm Hitzges who they think will take over the reins (look, they don't know); we wait for press conferences that will reveal nothing except empty promises and veiled half-truths.

Every day, Jerry Jones seems more and more trivial...and more and more nuts.
If we've learned anything from him, we should at least know this: his ownership is built upon three things--ignorance, greed, and lies. Jones has owned this team ugly for nine years, piling up money and mistakes like no one else in professional sports. He has sued former players, men who didn't even play for him, trying to take away their workers compensation benefits. He was the target of league litigation when he ran roughshod over the small-market teams while pocketing Nike and Pepsi's spare change. He ran off the best coach in professional football and replaced him with a man who would prove to be among the worst. He tarnished the star forever by executing Tom Landry without the benefit of any last words.

More recently, he hung Ernie Zampese out to dry, treating the NFL veteran like a child he didn't want to deal with. He didn't fire him or renew his contract, letting him dangle till New England snatched him off the clothesline. Zampese was much to blame for the Cowboys' offensive woes last season, but he deserved far better than to be treated like a pariah. After all, he didn't drop the balls thrown at Michael Irvin, he didn't run out of bounds like Emmitt Smith, and he didn't miss Erik Williams' snap counts.

For that matter, neither did Switzer. But he's the easy scapegoat--proof positive that Jones doesn't know what the hell he's doing.

Hiring Switzer was like asking out an old girlfriend because he knew he'd get laid. Barry, who had retired and said farewell to football after so many scandals at the University of Oklahoma, got out of the rocking chair simply because Jerry asked him to. Switzer was scared out of his mind when he came to town, but he genuinely believed in Jerry--up until the very end. It's possible that Switzer thought he was going to last beyond last season: In October, he told a group of reporters that "when Jerry talks to me about the future, he usually talks in several years."

And Jones backed him up.
On November 5, Jones stood outside Valley Ranch surrounded by members of the media and said, unequivocally, that Barry Switzer was his man for the long haul. "We're going to ride through these rough times, and we're going to ride with Barry Switzer."

Two months later, Switzer was given a one-way bus ticket back to Norman--no...wait, he resigned. So said Jerry at a January 9 press conference, where he confided that the whole ordeal had been so "emotional and difficult." Indeed, Jones was this close to firing Switzer in August, when he had been busted for bringing a gun into D/FW Airport. He kept ol' Barry around for the same reasons he had stuck with him for four years: Switzer was the perfect man to run his football team, a man who knew his place at the bottom of the pecking order.

Perhaps Jones finds his search for a coach so difficult because he hasn't done it since 1989, when he brought in Jimmy Johnson. For the first time, as owner of the Dallas Cowboys, Jones can't just call up a friend and offer him a job, and he's stuck: Oh, whether to hire a champ or a chump.

The solution to his problem is a simple one: Jerry needs to hire Sherman Lewis, the Green Bay Packers' offensive coordinator and the man most deserving of a shot at coaching an NFL team. Forget Butch Davis and the other college coaches Jones keeps hanging over our heads. Forget Seifert, a defensive-minded coach who only suggests greatness. Forget Donahue, a man who has never won a college-football national title--hell, even Switzer had managed that much. Forget everyone else.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky