It seems that six years after his sudden and shocking retirement, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is still wondering “what if” and whether or not he should have kept Jimmy Johnson in Dallas.
With the Dallas Cowboys preparing to open training camp for the 2018 season, the legacy of their longtime executive vice president of football operations will be on display. Jimmy Johnson, the architect of the Cowboys’ Super Bowl teams of the 1990s, was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, last week.
The last time the Dallas Cowboys won a Super Bowl, Jimmy Johnson was coaching. Now, he’s in the Pro Football Hall of Fame for his coaching career, and the fans are still wondering, “what if?”
Jimmy Johnson, the former coach of the Dallas Cowboys, and Jerry Jones, the team’s owner, will surely have a moment at the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Saturday (6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). The duo, who are among the game’s greats and are enshrined in Canton, Ohio, will have huge grins and boisterous laughter.
However, some Cowboys fans and players will be haunted by the possibility of what could have happened if Johnson and Jones had worked together for more than five seasons (1989-93).
After winning the Super Bowl in 1995 under previous coach Barry Switzer, the Cowboys became the first team to win three in four years. Many former Dallas players believe the team’s title total should have been higher.
“Not ‘What might’ve been,’ but ‘What the f—- could have been?” “No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no Michael Irvin, a Hall of Fame wide receiver, stated “Say it a little more forcefully. There isn’t a day that goes by without us thinking about it.”
If the NFC Championship Game victory against the San Francisco 49ers on Jan. 17, 1993, was their best moment, one of their worst came on March 29, 1994. Johnson claimed he and Jones agreed that day that he would no longer be the Cowboys’ coach. The Cowboys’ association with Johnson was ended after back-to-back Super Bowl victories in 1992 and 1993.
On Saturday (6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN), see the 2020 Centennial Class ceremony in Canton, Ohio, followed by the 2021 HOF class induction on Sunday (7 p.m. ET, ESPN):
• Inside Calvin Johnson’s 329-yard game • Troy Polamalu’s relationship with Bill Cowher • Edgerrin James’ legacy linked to HBCUs • J. Johnson: ‘How ’bout those Cowboys?’ • Winston Hill and Joe Namath’s relationship • Charles Woodson’s remarkable NFL career Get to know the HOF classes for this year. • Videos: Check out these Hall of Fame moments.
“New England swooped in behind you and repeated your feat. We could have made it four wins in a row. We could have won five out of six years if we had tried harder “Irvin said. “That is something I really believe. And I’ve done something I’ve never done before and will never do again. When you get those chances in life, you don’t always realize how valuable they are, especially when you’re young. When you have more time in your life, you realize, “Wow, we blew it.” You know what I mean? We messed up. We should’ve gone above and beyond. We should’ve had more victories.”
If Johnson had stayed on as coach, Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman is often asked how many more Super Bowls the Cowboys would have won.
“I don’t know,” Aikman remarked, “but my hunch is we would have [win more].” “But I believe that even stating that downplays the difficulty of winning a Super Bowl. Every year, we would have knocked on the door. We would have been in the race for the championship and had a chance to win it all, and I say that for two reasons: One, free agency was approaching, but Jimmy was a fantastic talent assessor, so I have no doubt that we would have continued to bring in new players. Two, he was so particular about the intricacies that we wouldn’t have been able to ignore them.”
Johnson, 78, claims he has no personal regrets, instead bemoaning how sorry he feels for his former teammates.
“I’ve already won enough. I feel terrible for them because I believe we would have won a lot more if I had remained “Johnson said.
Jones stated this at the opening of the Cowboys’ 2021 training camp in Oxnard, California, as the franchise’s title drought enters its 26th season “To go to a Super Bowl, I’d do everything known to man. That is a proven truth.”
Johnson had a 44-36 record with the Cowboys in five seasons, including a 7-1 playoff record. Jones has voiced remorse in subsequent years for not deferring to Johnson, stating, “It’s ridiculous. My duty was to hold everything together in this situation.”
Switzer, as Jones says, didn’t comprehend the split either.
“Barry drove down from Norman, Oklahoma, to discuss the employment opportunity. ‘Where’s Jimmy?’ he asks as he walks in. Barry had now coached both of us. ‘Where is Jimmy?’ he inquired. ‘Jimmy’s gone,’ I replied. ‘Well, that’s not right,’ he replied. Obtain him. Get him in this room. ‘How come Jimmy isn’t here?’ ‘Barry, Jimmy is gone,’ I replied. We’re sitting here debating whether or not you should be the coach.’ ‘What in the world are you so eager to speak to Jimmy about?’ I said.
On Jan. 30, 1993, former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones celebrate their team’s Super Bowl XXVII victory in Pasadena, California. Getty Images/Al Tielemans/Sports Illustrated
“‘All I want to do is get both of you little a—holes on this sofa and ask you both how you could f—- this up,’ he added. Switzer was his name.”
“I’ve never been able to know why I f—-ed it up,” Jones says of his lack of response to Switzer’s inquiry.
Jones announced Johnson’s induction into the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor on Thursday night.
Jones and Johnson were, in fact, better together than apart.
Since Johnson’s departure, the Cowboys have only won one Super Bowl, but Johnson is credited with a major role of that team’s success. Johnson never advanced beyond the divisional round of the playoffs during his four years as coach of the Miami Dolphins (1996-99).
“I’ve spoken to people like Norv [Turner] and Dave Wannstedt, who were both in the NFL for a long time, and they both agree what we had was never duplicated for them anyplace else,” Aikman said.
“We were able to catch something really unique, and I imagine Jimmy and Jerry would agree, saying, ‘You know, what we had was really wonderful, really great.’ Both of them would have made other choices if they had realized how wonderful it was. I’m not sure either of them would acknowledge it, but I’m not sure how they could sleep at night and think anything else.”
The Dallas Cowboys have had 12 head coaches in their history, and none of them were longer than seven seasons. The longest tenured head coach in organization history is Jimmy Johnson, who held that position for 13 years (1989-99). To put that in perspective, the longest tenured head coach in the NFL in 2011 was Bill Belichick, who had 9 years and 2 months on Tom Coughlin. Even with that impressive tenure, Johnson will not enter the Hall of Fame until after the 2017 season (when he will be 70), and he is almost certain to be one of the last coaches of his generation to be inducted.. Read more about jimmy johnson and let us know what you think.
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