Jerry Rigged

Jerry Jones thinks you're stupid. That's the only possible explanation for the ugly way he handled the benching of Quincy Carter in favor of Chad Hutchinson. It's the only explanation for the way he's handled these situations since the Pokes started decaying in the mid-to-late '90s.

See, he speaks in tongues--just rapidly spits unintelligible ramblings at you--and counts on you being so distracted and disoriented that you'll miss the big picture. He's like a crazy, drugged illusionist who's been doing the same trick for years, one who's too apathetic to even fix the cracks in his mirrors.

There he was at Valley Ranch on Monday, gyrating and fidgeting and doing what he does best: lying. He didn't want to lie. He had to lie. He would never purposely lie to you, of course, but he had to cover up other lies so that you wouldn't get wise to his ineptitude. His most recent, and egregious, half-truth was that Carter was going to be the Cowboys quarterback of the present, not to mention the future. That's what he said two years ago when he picked the Georgia peach from a tree that looked sickly and rotten to everyone but General Jerry. That's what he said last year while Carter struggled, and that's the same tired b.s. he regurgitated during the preseason and regular season. It didn't matter that the Pokes had signed Hutchinson and paid him a much bigger signing bonus than Carter, which even a complete fool could read as an indictment of Carter and his potential. No, Jones kept with the company line, his line, because he figured you'd buy it. He figured, as he always has, that you're stupid.

Problem was, things didn't shake out the way he expected. (As an aside, what was the last major decision that went according to his deluded plans? Just wondering.) Carter didn't light it up with the consistency that Jones was looking for, and so a change was needed. Which meant more gobbledygook.

"This is not a knee-jerk decision coming from [the Cardinals loss]," Jones said before flip-flopping moments later and admitting that a win over Arizona probably would have bought Carter more time. "What is important is that we need to get on with the process of developing a quarterback that can get us to where we want to go as a franchise....I'm very patient, but I'm very impatient."


That wasn't all. He used a number of confounding lines, from "the evaluation [of Carter] was complete, well, not complete" to stating that the decision to go with Hutchinson was ultimately his. "It wasn't done like a vote, or unanimous or anything," he said, "but in this case we all agreed."

%$#@! what? It got to the point where my notes were so twisted that I stopped transcribing and started cursing.

Do you understand now? Do you see? He goes in circles and hopes to lose you in the verbal loops. And don't think the timing of the switch--coming on the precipice of Emmitt Smith breaking the rushing record--is a coincidence, either. It's just more sleight of hand from a terrible magician.

The whole thing was so absurd and obvious that I had to wonder how Jones or head coach Dave Campo even kept a straight face. Hell, the smartest thing the Pokes did all day Monday was wait until almost 5 p.m. to start the news conference. That way, the players would be gone and the media couldn't get to many of the principals in this horrid tale until Wednesday (Tuesday is the players' day off). Kudos to PR honcho Rich Dalrymple for that bit of quick thinking, but when the smartest guy in the organization is your chief spin doctor, you're in trouble.

The simpler approach would have been for The General to admit his mistake. He should have said that he was wrong about Carter and that he's been overmatched as a GM for years and that the team is now starting over. Again. Seven games into the season. But that's not his way; he'd rather dig himself deeper.

So whether you liked Carter or you saw him as a court jester is immaterial. Forget the numbers or the 15-game evaluation that was or wasn't complete. Forget this silly quarterback controversy. Forget that the guy who should be taking the fall for all this--offensive coordinator Bruce "I should be the head coach" Coslet--has been overlooked. What you should focus on is something you probably don't want to acknowledge. What you should focus on is the cruel reality here: The chances of the Cowboys getting good again are remote so long as Jones runs the joint. Because while his non sequiturs and natural duplicity make for good, funny copy, they also speak to the club's recent plight.

There are so many advisers and coordinators and consultants sprinting in so many directions over at Valley Ranch that there can be no organization, only organized confusion. There is no one man, no one football man, to call a stop to everything and point out the madness. Instead, in the vacuum created by a lack of knowledgeable leadership, Jones runs amok and sinks this franchise into mediocrity with every misstep and stuttered phrase.

I mean, they can't even get their stories straight, and if they can't do that, how in the world are they going to return the 'Boys to glory?

"This was all of our decisions," Campo offered shortly before Jones said the final decision was his alone. "We work as an organization here. We work with the staff and Mr. Jones and the administrative people. This is a collective decision."

You can't really fault Campo. I doubt that he believed any of the crap he said Monday, but then what was he going to do? The man is little more than an enabler, a puppet who's capable of agreeing with the boss at all the right times. I might even feel bad for Campo if yes-men didn't cause me to retch.

This big-picture overview is so sordid and complicated that my brain is damn close to exploding. So let's dumb it down, for me, and narrow the focus.

If you wade through this sea of sloppy, maddening propaganda, what you're left with is a new quarterback who the Cowboys are evaluating for the future but who they swear is here to help them now. What you're left with is an owner/GM who is a habitual liar, not to mention a football incompetent. What you're left with is a once-proud franchise with no direction, going nowhere fast.

You're left with all that, and this, too: "I felt like, and we felt like as an organization, that we ought to be moving the ball and we ought to be scoring more points," Jones said. "I saw [the Pats] go to the Super Bowl last year and win it with a second-year quarterback, and those are the types of standards that we're looking at, whether fair or unfair. I felt like, and we felt like, we're very comfortable and we've been very patient with this decision...

"We have every bit as much confidence [in Hutchinson] as we did in Quincy."

And if you believe that, well, you're exactly what General Jerry thinks you are.