I am a big time football fan ..... without a team.
Don't cry for me, Argentina. Although I have to admit that there are times when it kind of stinks not having ONE TEAM to root for above all others, most of the time it's a good thing. The fact that I am not tied to one team frees me to watch whatever game seems to me to be the best game, no matter the teams.
So how did I find myself in this situation and what does it have to do with Jerry Jones?
Well, as a football fan I am the product of three blessings. The first of which is that I was born into a family of sports fans. My father, uncles, grandfather and cousins (both male & female) all love sports. And growing up in 'Steeler Country', football talk was the first speech thaat I learned as a baby ... and that was even before the Steelers achieved any success.
The second blessing is that I grew up in a railroaders neighborhood in which sports were like a second religion. There were many kids older than me, and as they started to REALLY KNOW the game of football, I was whisked right along ... and could keep up due my family background.
The third blessing is a very high sports IQ, which was apparent by the time I was three years old. Now I'm not going to try to convince you that I KNEW the game at the age of three, but with sports speak all around me I was learning and absorbing everything. By the age of five, I knew as much about football as any adult member of my family and more than any toher kid in my neighborhood.
Which brings me back to the BEGINNING of how Jerry Jones affected my life. When I was four years old, I was really beginning to 'get it' when it came to the NFL, but a lot of my knowledge had to with the items written on the back of Topps Football Cards. So the players who I first admired were the ones with the best bios on the backs of their respective cards. Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath, Deacon Jones and, for some reason, a Rams' Wide Receiver named Jack Snow were some of my favorites. I also rooted for the Washington's in San Francisco, Vic and Gene. I think they just LOOKED cool to me. As I have already written, my family was all about the Steelers, however. The variety of teams that my favorites played for combined with my family's die hard love for the Black & Gold did nothing to tie me to any allegience to ONE TEAM.
Then one day, my friend Phillip (who happened to be three years older than me, and much tougher at that time) asked what my favorite team was. I told him that I didn't have a favorite team, news to which he responded by trying to convince to become a Dallas Cowboys fan. My resistence to make such a declaration led to a punch in the stomach, tears, apologies, and finally Phillip begging me not to tell either his mother or mine that he had struck me. He offered me a FULL PLATE of his mother's World Famous Peanut Butter Fudge to seal the deal. I wasn't a rat, so wouldn't have tattled anyway, but I was no fool .... that fudge was AWESOME! But Phil was no dummy either. Before allowing me to consumate our agreement of silence, he held the plate in front of me and tried once again to gain my loyalty to the men with the big star on the side of their helmets. I agreed.
From that moment on, I spent my free time learning everything that I could about the Dallas Cowboys. Before long I not only had a favorite team, but a favorite player as well. Bob Hayes .... the BULLETT .... was a blur running down the field and hauling in long bombs!!! He was truly a sight to see. Every single Wide Receiver since Hayes, who relies on their speed to make their game, owes his living to Bullett Bob. If you have never been witness to his prowess, I suggest that you go on Youtube and look him up, you won't regret it!
As the years passed, more great players came through the Big D. Calvin Hill, Duane Thomas and Walt Garrison were great Running Backs. First Craig Morton and then Roger Staubach led the way at Quarterback. And then there were the defensive players .... Lee Roy Jordan, Bob Lilly, Chuck Howley, Mel Renfro, Herb Addison and Cornell Green were all to be admired. And there were many more, too many to mention them all here.
Later, as Staubach grew into a two-time Super Bowl Champion and Hall of Fame Quarterback, he led others onto the gridiron. Men such as Tony Dorsett, Drew Pearson, Preston Pearson and Billy Joe Dupree led the offense. And Harvey Martin, Ed Jones and Randy White provided a wall in front of Bob Bruenig, DD Lewis, Cliff Harris and Charlie Waters that led to a Championship in 1977.
The winning continued for many years, even though there was a Super Bowl drought from 1978 until 1992 ... marred only by a few losing seasons. But it was these losing seasons began the process that led to my disillusionment with the team. You must understand that as an intelligent fan, I not only admired the players, but the men who put the teams together. Starting with the ownership of the team by the Murtchison family. As classy and important as the Rooney family is with the Steelers, or the Halas family with the Bears, the Murtchisons led this team from the top by putting the right people in the front office positions. Then there were Tex Schramm and Gil Brandt, two men who worked with the coaching staff to bring the best players into the fold. And the there was the legend .... Coach Tom Landry. Landry epitomized class and work ethic, combined with cutting edge scouting techniques, to lead this team to the title of 'America's Team!' I never met the man, but as a fan from the age of four, I loved him as if he were a long distance uncle, and respected above all others.
Certainly, when Jerry Jones bought the team and made the decision to 'retire' Landry, it was justifiable. But he chose not to allow Landry to keep his dignity. that was strike one, and a BIG one. Although I still loved my Cowboys, I could not stand to watch them that first year after the legend was gone. I didn't miss much, they were terrible. But Jones' replacement for Landry, Jimmy Johnson, began to grow on me, despite the fact that I could not stand the man as a college coach. Perhaps you would be justified to assume that I was on a bandwagon, although I would argue that a loyal, die hard fan of so many years should be excused some dismay when a change that big was made. As the team grew under Johnson with the addition of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin, my joy in the team came back. Winning three Super Bowl titles in four years didn't hurt either. But it was during this run that Jones ran Johnson out of town and brought in Barry Switzer. True blue Cowboys' fans seethed at the audacity. After all, we had witnessed one great coach leading them for 29 seasons. And although his exit was less than what it should have been, Jones had succeeded in bringing in another great coach. But to drive Johnson out of town after a mere five years? Unacceptable.
The revolving door that has been attached to the Head Coaching job in Dallas has driven many 'old school' fans away from the team, and others underground. The NEW Cowboys' fans have no clue what they are missing. But I feel fortunate not to be counted among them. While there remains a number of classy fans of the team, the majority of the NEW fans have no class whatsoever. They are loud, boreish thugs, and I would be afraid to attend a game for fear of witnessing a robbery or murder in the parking lots.
A fan without a team. Is this a sad circumstance? At times, yes. But the benefits far outweigh the dross. And I have Jerry Jones to thank. What do ya know?