Growing up in Dallas in the 1960s and 1970s meant I was a Cowboys fan. To a certain extent the story of Texas – individualism, toughness, ingenuity, and self-reliance oozed from Tom Landry. Most of Dallas was from somewhere else originally, but you could become a Cowboy pretty easily every Sunday.
Landry’s Cowboys were always in contention until the very end of his career. He “won two Super Bowl titles (VI, XII), 5 NFC titles, 13 Divisional titles, and compiled a 270-178-6 record, the 3rd most wins of all time for an NFL coach. His 20 career playoff victories are the most of any coach in NFL history.”
Landry’s closing years were awful and the arrival of Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson was viewed with a mixture of disdain and wonder. “Could these clowns from Arkansas and Florida be Cowboys?” Jones had the money and Johnson revealed himself easily the rival of Landry in discipline, motivation, and personnel selection. In five years Johnson took the Cowboys to the playoffs 3 times and won two Super Bowls. He was also responsible for the remaining two years of competitive football in Dallas in 1995 and 1996.
That is why I spent untold buckets of money changing travel plans, on paraphernalia, indoctrinating my children, and otherwise mortgaging my emotional well- being for the Cowboys.
Until 2010 when I woke up. Now I can calmly watch any Cowboy game with modest optimism knowing it is meaningless until Jerry is gone.
Step One on Surviving Jerry Jones – recite over and over to yourself everyday “that was 17 years ago and now they suck”.
Step Two – get a backup team in the AFC that you can root for and will keep you interested when the Cowboys flop out of the playoffs like a dying carp baking on the side of Possum Kingdom Reservoir. After December 1st, I root for the Ravens.
Step Three – never buy another piece of Cowboy merchandise again. Hurting Jerry’s pocketbook is the only way to move him out of football operations. You already have enough from when the Cowboys were actually good. Plus every time you resist the temptation you will get a thrill at sticking it to Jerry.
Step Four – understand that you do not want to tie your self-worth to the Cowboys. After all, do you spend your life losing 50% of the time making the same strategic mistakes year after year? Like Al Franken’s character on Saturday Night Live, you are better than that.
Step Five – never have a Cowboy party and always have something planned that is fun after the game. Growing up I never had any plans but watching the game and celebrating. Get a good movie, a reservation at a great restaurant, but make sure you have something else planned to take your mind off a defensive front 7 from the tryout scene in Invincible.
Step Six – try not to follow any media on the Cowboys except on game day. Offseason and non-game day coverage just emphasizes that the same old problems from last year are the same old problems this year.
Step Seven – Stop paying attention to marketing. The primary criticism of the Landry character in North Dallas Forty was his cold-hearted data driven decisions. Coach Johnson was all about results. If you were a marginal player and fumbled on Sunday, you were cut publicly on Monday to send a message. If you were Leon Lett, you got another chance because of your play on the field. The message was clear, the only thing that mattered was getting into the playoffs and winning.
Beyond the fabulous stadium, the classic uniforms, and the hype do you have any idea what matters to Jerry and the 2013 team?
You can still enjoy knowing the Redskins have a worse owner who has never won anything. There will be thousand yard rushers plus passing and sack records. Just accept it will never amount to much until, like Al Davis, Jerry Jones fades into that pathetic pantheon of young men who did something great with others and wasted the rest of their lives in proving they could not do it alone.