Updated: Mar 16
By Jacob Walters
Jimmy Johnson: “So, Homer, what do you do for a livin’?”
Homer Simpson: “I work for a vicious, evil skinflint that exposes me to nuclear radiation 40 hours a week.”
Jimmy Johnson: “Well, I worked for Jerry Jones.”
Homer Simpson: “I can only imagine your pain.” (NFL on Fox, Week One intro featuring the Simpsons, 1995)
The Simpsons are known for making spot-on predictions. However, this vignette couldn’t have predicted the Dallas Cowboys’ current dysfunction more accurately. It’s been nearly a quarter of a century since “America’s Team” last won the Super Bowl. As a result, Cowboys fans have watched their division rivals, the Giants and Eagles, hoist the Lombardi trophy in the process. In fact, the Cowboys haven’t even been back to the NFC Championship. Who’s to blame for this fiasco? None other than the most notorious owner in the NFL, Jerry Jones.
You might think that Jason Garrett was the problem with the Cowboys last season. After all, how can you have an offense with an offensive DVOA of 24% (second-best in the league!) miss the playoffs? But the problems run deeper than the joyous clapper named Jason Garrett. In 1989, Jones appointed himself as the general manager in place of a distraught Tex Schramm because, well, it’s Jerry Jones. At first, it was a success! With Jimmy Johnson and the three-headed dragon of Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, and Emmitt Smith on board, the Cowboys won back-to-back Super Bowls and were a force for Jones’s first seven years as general manager. But Jerry Jones said that “any coach could win the Super Bowl with the Cowboys”, drawing Johnson’s ire and the two parting ways shortly after.
As a result of Jones being the Cowboys general manager, it’s become an NFL tradition to watch the Cowboys get eliminated no later than the divisional round. Excluding Garrett (who went 2-3 in the playoffs), Cowboys head coaches have gone 1-6 in the playoffs since Barry Switzer left the helm. Not even the legendary Bill Parcells could do anything with the roster Jones was giving him, going 0-2 in the playoffs. Even Jason Garrett being let go was a debacle!
Jones’s relationship with his personnel has been unsatisfying. It wasn’t just Johnson, who got inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame sooner than he got inducted into the Cowboys Ring of Honor. Jones ousted legendary Cowboys coach Tom Landry as soon as he took over the Cowboys in 1989 (Star Telegram, 2016). That’s like the Green Bay Packers firing Vince Lombardi back in the day! It took four years for Landry and Jones to patch up their relationship, with Landry eventually being inducted into the Cowboys Ring of Honor in 1993.
It isn’t just the issues with the front office, though. Jones has had a tendency of having rough work relationships with his players. During contract negotiations, Jones was asked about his star running back, Ezekiel Elliott, and his holdout. Jones responded with “Zeke who?”, which drew the ire of Elliott and his agent, Rocky Arceneaux. Then there was the controversy involving Colin Kaepernick kneeling for racial justice. Jones issued a statement mandating that his players stand for the national anthem. Otherwise, any players that didn’t oblige would be benched. This drew sharp criticism from the NFLPA and sports fans alike.
Jones’s character as an NFL owner has come into question. In 2014, Jones was accused of sexual assault by June Weckerly (CBS Sports, 2014). The incident occurred in 2009, where Weckerly said that Jones “fondled her breasts, touched her butt, forcibly kissed her, and forcibly fondled her genitals.” There were even photos of Jones with the accuser. In the age of the #MeToo movement, this is a bad look for one of the most famous owners in all of sports. There’s also Jones getting players based on their sheer athletic ability. Players such as Adam “Pac-Man” Jones, Terrell Owens, Greg Hardy, and Dez Bryant come to mind. These players drew more media attention to their actions off the field than their contributions on the field.
That’s not all, though. For Jerry Jones’s shiny new AT&T Stadium that opened in 2009, the city of Arlington provided $325 million of public funding. Jones even got the NFL to chip in an additional $150 million! As a consolation prize, the city of Arlington received $500,000 in naming rights for the stadium. The average ticket cost for a Cowboys game at AT&T Stadium in 2019 was $258. Talk about a raw deal.
Unfortunately for Cowboys fans, they are not getting a product that resembles the grandiose and hubris of their storied franchise. When Jones is more focused on getting a football team in Los Angeles than he is on making sure his own team is a Super Bowl contender, Cowboys fans suffer. As a result, the Cowboys have become a punchline in the NFL. How can you not pick the Emperor Palpatine of sports owners in Jerry Jones as the worst owner in all of sports?