What coincidences: This past weekend, we learned that the NFL, sometime in the past year, voided the New Orleans Saints' contract extension with Sean Payton as well as that Jerry Jones thinks, presently, he'd fire his general manager if it were someone else ... and the NFL Network is airing the Jimmy Johnson edition of "A Football Life" on Wednesday.
Did Jones drive Johnson away after the Dallas Cowboys' Super Bowl victory following the 1993 season? Did Johnson's success justify more of the control he supposedly sought from Jones before he decided to leave the organization?
Not really. At least from a distance, each man's ego seemed to have become more important to him than the success of his franchise. Their split is akin to a hypothetical breakup of Pearl Jam after the release of "Vs." I shudder to think about what the band's direction would've looked like had "Vitalogy" or "No Code" had a different lead guitarist or, even worse, front man. In all likelihood, one, the other or both, as well as PJ's perceived downswing, followed by its revival and conquers anew, never would've happened. Thank goodness musicians are so much more reasonable than sports management.
Payton: Jones' next foil?
With the Cowboys, Johnson had a lot of input on personnel. Jones trusted Johnson's evaluations and experience. Still, it sounds as if Johnson misremembers a thing or two about his time in the Big D, although the FOX analyst appears to feel as if he made his point.
At the time, the GM didn't fully appreciate what his hand-picked head coach brought to the table. Johnson didn't really demonstrate his absolute shrewdness with the Miami Dolphins, either, of course. It's not hard to believe that these two were friends before they agreed to work together, but it's sad that they no longer work together.
After the pair parted ways, Barry Switzer sort of proved Jones' theory: Any schmoe could win a Super Bowl with the talent the owner had assembled. Jones failed to recognize that Johnson's fingerprints were all over Dallas' 1995 campaign winner, though.
Jones' assessments haven't been good enough without Johnson's input and action. The team's GM is adamant that all his coaches, through Jason Garrett, have had or do have the same amount of say that Johnson did. Garrett is part of the team's present problem, of course.
Jones' unwillingness to take the fall for his team's repeated failures is a bit hypocritical. His statement that he'd fire Jones the GM if it were anyone else is in some manner an admission that his business and political principles apply to everyone but him. But, to his credit, he acknowledged that he must evolve in order to discover - or rediscover - the correct formula.
Palpable change in Jones seems like it's a long way off, unfortunately for the Cowboys. Johnson and Jones worked well together, but neither man's ego allowed for approval. The marriage between owner-GM and Bill Parcells was doomed from the start, whether the latter's heart wasn't in it or the game was passing him by.
Payton, incidentally, is a rough equivalent of Johnson and perhaps Jones' eventual solution. If Jones does change, perhaps he'll come to realize that the organization works best with that kind of yang to his yin. The owner remains forever in search of another taste of Super Bowl glory.
Johnson, meanwhile, is happy to run his yap in a TV studio and cast a line into the drink for a nibble or two. At least he's living in the present tense.
About Nicholas Minnix
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.
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