Dan Reeves was to be the disciplinarian to a gaggle of Cowboys players who hang as loose as Terry Glenn's genitalia in a hotel hallway.
Dan Reeves was to be a consultant to O-coordinator Jason Garrett, who is a respect-your-elders get-along guy who almost certainly would have accepted the teachings of a 40-year football lifer.
Dan Reeves was to be a security blanket to Wade Phillips, who is a career-long friend of Reeves and Dan would've had his back.
Dan Reeves was to be a de facto assistant GM to Jerry, who is in desperate need of all the football brain cells he can accumulate.
Dan Reeves was to be an icon of credibility to an increasingly cynical and doubting Cowboys public.
Dan Reeves is a Tom Landry guy, a Super Bowl guy, a Cowboy guy, an offense guy, a discipline guy, a consultant guy, a teaching guy, a personnel guy, a PR guy, a Wade guy and … much to my surprise, knowing owner Jerry Jones well since 1990 and knowing coach Dan Reeves barely well at all but since 1982 … Reeves was about to become a Jerry guy, too.
Different things to different people. All things to all people. Just like in that elephant fable from India.
And he was. For 48 hours.
At some point between Monday and Tuesday of this week, even after Reeves had discussed the move back to Dallas with his family, had set up shop in an office at the team headquarters and had agreed with Jerry in principle to a multi-year contract, somebody checked the fine print.
Fine print that Mr. Jones had entered belatedly.
Fine print that said something about Reeves being locked into a specific number of hours he was to spend on the job.
"Oh, definitely, big-time,'' Reeves is quoted as saying in response to a media question about the unusual contractual clause. "For someone to question how I've done (my hours) for a lot of years, I've never been questioned. Plus, as a coach, how can you verify that? Nobody punches a clock.''
Mr. Jones, why? You were thisclose to employing one of the football world's greatest problem-solvers – and a man who represents manna from heaven ("Dan-na from heaven''?) when it comes to the particular problems with your Dallas Cowboys – and you made this 65-year-old man with the balky crookedy knees and the bum ticker jump through one more stupid hoop?
Jerry said "jump.'' Reeves said, "Are you kidding me?''
And instead of jumping, Dan Reeves walked.
And instead of dealing with a question of how many hours he'd spend at work, he crafted a definitive answer. And he worked 48 of them.
There were going to be other issues. Like the T.O. debate that Reeves was almost certainly primed to involve himself in. But that's part of the job definition.
Filling out a time card is not.
There could be a save here. Reeves is saying he'd come back to Dallas, where he is beloved as a former player, player-coach, coach and Landry disciple, under a certain condition.
Filling out a time card must be dumped.
Coach Reeves probably doesn't know me anymore, but when I was a pup, I covered his early 1980's Denver Broncos training camps in Greeley, Colorado. It was a treat for me, working for the local paper and the incredibly popular football team coming to my town, to my college campus. I learned a lot from him for a couple of summers – again, all almost certainly without him noticing the spec of dust that I represented, and even years later, when he'd generously check in from Atlanta on my Dallas radio show, likely never making some old Greeley connection.
One thing I learned is the level of pride that drives this man. Faith-based pride, competitive pride, honorable pride. And let me tell you what happened when Jerry inserted that clause:
Dan Reeves' pride was personally offended. His honor was insulted.
"You don't work 23 years in this business whatsoever without some kind of work ethic," Reeves said. "To me, why would you want it in there? A contract should be like a handshake anyway.''
Jerry unintentionally treated Dan like some pimply-faced McDonald's worker who might steal some French fries, like some shady janitor who might nap in the broom closet, like he'd knocked on the door with a Ponzi scheme offer.
Jerry, step back. … THIS IS DAN REEVES!
How honorable and committed to doing the right thing is Dan Reeves? He started work Monday, before signing the contract. He didn't need the contract; he had already shaken hands, so he was sitting in on staff meetings, analyzing the club's offensive running game, and making individual evaluations of players on the roster.
How honorable and committed to doing the right thing is Dan Reeves? I can promise you that it wasn't all that many years ago that Reeves was no fan of Jerry Jones. The Landry thing, you know. But a Cowboy is a Cowboy. Dan's son-in-law has already taken a job here. Wade was here. Time heals all wounds. Forgive and forget.
How honorable and committed to doing the right thing is Dan Reeves? Here's a little story from 1983, from Broncos training camp, featuring a powerful football CEO and a pup reporter:
Coach Reeves is on one end of the long, green series of practice fields. He's supervising the most important person in the NFL that summer, a rookie QB named John Elway. I'm at the other end watching the defense work, and diligently taking notes near a grassy hill. As the morning wore on, I continued my observations but sat down on the grassy hill. Suddenly, a fellow about my age, a young Broncos aide wearing tight blue coaches shorts and an orange golf shirt, came sprinting across the yard. He came all the way from behind Reeves position on the offense end to my resting place on the hill.
"Is everything OK?'' I asked the kid as he approached me.
"Yeah, it will be,'' he said, "as soon as you stand up. Coach Reeves told me to tell you to stand up.''
Now, Jerry. … this is a guy so focused on work ethic that he wouldn't let a chubby cub reporter even rest for a moment on his practice field.
And you think he needs a "work-ethic'' clause?
Reeves Won't Give Jerry Time of Day
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