The number 25 is a significant one this month for Dallas Cowboys fans. February 25 marks the 25th anniversary of when an Arkansas oilman purchased the most popular and successful professional sports franchise in the state of Texas.
It's easy to look back on that fateful day resentfully, or even with outright vitriol toward Jerry Jones. This is a man who took what was the most prosperous franchise in the modern NFL and — through ego and incompetence — scuttled all chances for a return to the league pinnacle. Cowboys fans have even resorted to involving the U.S. Government in saving them from Jones' oppressive management style.
When fans begin clamoring for his ousting, Jerry Jones usually likes to remind us that the Cowboys have won three Super Bowls with him sitting in the owner's box and as the general manager.
Though it might pain fans to admit, Jones did preside over the most successful period in Dallas Cowboys history.
Though it might pain fans to admit, Jones did preside over the most successful period in Dallas Cowboys history. On this, the 25th anniversary of his purchase of America's Team, perhaps it's time to give the owner just a little bit of credit.
Not full credit, mind you.
Jones likes to claim that he was in charge of the drafts where the Cowboys built the team of the 1990s, but former coach Jimmy Johnson directly refutes those claims. Judging by the Cowboys' lack of success after Johnson left, it's a pretty accurate proclamation that Johnson was the football brain of the JJ duo.
Yet, Johnson wouldn't have even been here had Jones not purchased the team. They had a history together back at the University of Arkansas, and that is how Jones lured Johnson from his college gig at Miami to Dallas.
Without Johnson, there would be no Herschel Walker trade, no bounty of draft picks that the Cowboys used to piece together possibly the most talented young team in the history of the NFL. And without Jones, there would be no Johnson.
Fans barbecued Jones from the moment he walked in the door for the way he handled the firing of legendary coach Tom Landry. What is rarely mentioned is that these same angry fans were on sports talk shows suggesting that Landry step down because the game had passed him by.
It also goes unmentioned that Jones wouldn't have been allowed to buy the team if firing Landry weren't in his plan. At the time, current owner Bum Bright refused to sell the team unless the new owner was going to get rid of Landry. Call it petty jealousy, or just flat-out bad form, but Bright never gets the criticism he deserves when it comes to the handling of Tom Landry.
Jerry Jones has more than his share of flaws, and he holds Dallas fans hostage to his bizarre whims. But his actions when he first bought the team led to three Super Bowl titles, and that's something even his most ardent critics can't argue with.
Of course, it's been 19 years since Dallas last won the Super Bowl, and the team hasn't even made the playoffs for four straight seasons. Barring a personality transplant, it's hard to see Jones as capable of turning the troubled team around. His glory days, as real as they were, appear to be all behind him.