Jerry Jones Unplugged

The old adage, ‘What goes up, must come down,' may have never been better illustrated than in an interview of Jerry Jones by Terry O'Neil. Jones frankness about his GM machinations shed needed light on the past and future of the Cowboys. This is Jerry Jones at his most unbiased and objective on some of his accomplishments.

"I made the mistake of Troy's (Aikman) longevity," Jones said. "I made the mistake against the warnings of some people… but I didn't consider their advice carefully enough." This is a stark revelation that Jones realizes his mistakes from the past.

But he further astonishes by his comment on the Galloway acquisition. When asked if he would have traded for Joey if he knew Troy would only play one more year, he responded, "No. And that's not meant as any criticism of Joey. As long as Troy stayed healthy, we felt we had a window of success. I felt I should go out and get him the best possible receiver."

Showing he understands his errors and wishes to minimize his gamble, Jerry spoke about the Quincy Carter pick. "I realize how fortunate we were to get Troy Aikman with our No. 1 pick in 1989, but it doesn't always work that way. So if I could get our future quarterback with a low second round draft-pick…then we've solved that problem without the much higher risk."

Jerry is a realist, regardless of what some may think about him. He sees the team as a question mark this season, even though making bold statements in the past. "I could be sitting here with the No. 1 (overall) pick next year." A far cry from his prognostications in June.

Jerry switches hats quickly to that of owner and promoter in speaking about Emmitt and his extension. The 9 million dollar cap hit would almost equal Aikman's were Emmitt to have a career ending injury this season. But Jerry sees this as an opportunity in a different light.

"There is a sense of promoting the franchise. This is a franchise-value decision. There's the aura and emotion and tradition of wanting him to break the record (Walter Payton's 16,726 yard rushing record) as a Cowboy. That's very valuable to our franchise."

Jerry shows his softer side when discussing his star running back. Loyalty is a quality that is rare in football and perhaps the reason Jones has gotten into trouble with the cap. Staying with players that have shown signs of losing their skills because they aided in his success has been an issue with his detractors. Some of Jerry's respected advisors from other teams suggested he look closer at Aikman. "They were concerned not just about the possibility of injury, but about his skills: ‘Look, he's not the player he once was. He doesn't have mobility, can't avoid the rush," Jerry quoted.

The team will venture back into an area of vulnerability with Emmitt Smith and keep their fingers crossed. His health and skills along with his enormous contract for the 32 year-old running back hold the franchise hostage. But that is another gamble Jerry is willing to take.

"I don't want him to ever play in another uniform. I want Babe Ruth to retire a Yankee."

There is something to be said for the mystique of the Cowboys that has been pushed to new levels by Jerry, via the Smiths, Aikmans, and Irvins. Even in an off year as predicted by so many, Jones can make an off-hand comment and get miles of publicity.

Marty Shottenheimer predicted his Washington Redskins could reach the Super Bowl this season. Surely as bold a prediction as anything Jones has uttered. But his comment wasn't front-page news.

Yet this notoriety has its upside for Jones. When the XFL running back John Avery, who had been approached by several NFL teams wishing his services talked with Jones, he said, "Mr. Jones, whatever the minimum salary is, that's OK by me. If I could get a chance to play for the Dallas Cowboys, I don't need to hear from those other teams."

Jerry has shown in the past he can change his stance on issues. He brought in Ismail after spending several years trying to find a budding star across from Irvin. He finally saw the wisdom in hiring quality help. His signing of Galloway indicated he understood the need for a balanced passing game. His judgment was sound although in light of Aikman's declining health, perhaps ill advised.

Jerry expressed his opinion of the job of General Manager in the NFL by saying, "Of all the things I've done in my career, this is, by far, the most difficult. It's so hard to get your hands around it, because it keeps changing."

If history is any indication of the capability of Jerry Jones, it certainly suggests he will rebuild the Cowboys in the image of the early 90's. And slip his hands around the most visible General Manager's job in the NFL and another Lombardi Trophy.

Then perhaps, ‘What went down, can surely rise again.'

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