Jimmy Johnson sets record straight about his time with Cowboys: ‘I had complete and total responsibility over the football operation,’ not Jerry Jones
By Barry Horn / Reporter
3:52 pm on November 7, 2012 |
IRVING – Jimmy Johnson said he wasn’t interested in creating controversy but he wanted to set the record straight on Wednesday about his role with the Cowboys in the years he coached the team.
“The time I was with the team I had complete and total responsibility over the football operation,” Johnson said in a telephone interview from his home in the Florida Keys. “That meant personnel, the draft, coaches, including the strength coach. Everything.
“It was always in my contract.”
Johnson was reacting to comments owner Jerry Jones made in the wake of the Cowboys loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Jones said he ran the Cowboys’ football operation from the day he bought the team in 1989 and would continue to do so.
“When I bought the team, the night I bought it, I said I would be doing what I’m doing and that’s GM the team and making the final decisions on personnel,” Jones said late Sunday night. “That’s the way it’s always been done. We’ve won three Super Bowls doing it that way, so I’m going to do it again.”
Johnson, who coached two of those three Super Bowl teams and has been widely credited for assembling the talent that twice beat the Buffalo Bills and the team that went on to win a third against the Pittsburgh Steelers under Barry Switzer, agreed that Jones held the title of “general manager” but…
“When we signed that first contract Jerry said, ‘I’ll be in charge of the finances, you’ll be in charge of the football,’ we’ll make history,”’Johnson said.
Jones and Johnson arrived in 1989. The Cowboys won Super Bowls after the 1992, 1993 and 1995 seasons.
“Jerry was trying to pay for the Cowboys those first three or four years,” Johnson said. “That’s the way it was.”
In a May 21, 1989 Dallas Morning News story detailing Johnson’s authority with the Cowboys, Jones was quoted saying, “Jimmy is coach and chief executive officer of the Dallas Cowboys. Jimmy has the capacity to run major corporations, so he
can certainly handle the Cowboys. It’s a unique situation, but he has
But Johnson said Jones wanted more credit when he realized the business end of the Cowboys was not quite as glamorous as the day-to-day football operation.
“In the third or fourth year, Jerry said ‘I want to be part of this. Nobody cares how much money I make, they want to know about a second-string guard,”’ Johnson said.
Johnson said when the Cowboys traded with Atlanta for defensive tackle Tony Casillas in training camp before the 1991 season he was surprised to hear Jones taking credit. Johnson said when he told Jones about the trade, the owner was not familiar with Casillas, who had played at the University of Oklahoma and been the second pick of the 1986 draft.
“I was steamed,” Johnson said.
Johnson said that when he negotiated subsequent contracts with Jones, the Cowboys owner was “always very adamant” that clauses detailing Johnson’s control be removed.
“It was always a sticking point with Jerry,” Johnson said. “I would never agree.”
Coincidentally, the Cowboys victory over the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVIII was the last game Johnson coached for Jones and the Cowboys. It was at the Georgia Dome, the same place Jones made his comments on Sunday. The two had a famous parting of the ways that allowed Jones to bring in Barry Switzer from 1994-1997.
The Cowboys won one playoff game in 1996 and one more since.
“I never said Jerry was not 100 percent into his job and the Cowboys,” Johnson said. “I just want facts to be facts.”