Monday, October 13, 2008

Jerry's Kids

By Scott Lowe
API Management & Marketing

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Why doesn't Jerry Jones get it?

Two years ago T.O. ripped apart the Dallas Cowboys with his selfishness, mood swings, public outbursts and ultimately his overdose on "vitamins." So the following year what does Sir Jerry do but visit Chico's Bail Bonds and rescue troublemaker Tank Johnson from himself. Disliked everywhere but Dallas, Jones was a hero in Chicago for removing yet another threat to the local community there. The end result: another early playoff exit, a teary-eyed T.O. defending his Q.B. and more questions about the team's character.

The Cowboys had character issues? No way. Who knew? Once known as America's team, the Cowboys became South America's team in the wake of several drug-related incidents during the 90s. These days they are just plain unsavory.

If all that turmoil weren't enough, Jones studied the police blotter this past off-season and decided to take yet another chance on a guy who didn't deserve another second (or tenth) chance. Adam "Pacman" Jones, who had become commissioner Roger Goodell's poster child for the NFL's new more stringent disciplinary policies and who seemingly had not gone a week without showing up in a police report, was welcomed by Jerry Jones to Dallas with open arms and and open checkbook.

Jerry Jones' secondary had been heavily criticized for several years, so this move made all the sense in the world. A superb athlete with no understanding of what it takes to be a productive citizen in one of the most lenient societies in the world would be a perfect fit playing for Jones' dysfunctional family. I guess Jerry Jones figured that if nothing else "Pacman" had to be in shape. After all, he'd been running from the law non-stop for about three years.

"Pacman" Jones said all the right things. He wanted a fresh start and was grateful for the opportunity. He wouldn't mess up again. He'd learned to appreciate what he had been given and was going to make the most of this second (tenth?) opportunity. Out with "Pacman" and in with Adam Jones. A new beginning was all he wanted.

And he got it, along with a pardon from Goodell, who no doubt was convinced to "do the right thing" when Deion Sanders, football's Jesse Jackson, showed up at Cowboys training camp to mentor the new and improved Adam Jones. Neion Deion proclaimed Adam a "good kid" and a "changed man." He figured that out during just one afternoon fishing with him. Who needs $200 an hour shrinks? Clearly that was all Goodell needed to finalize his decision.

So, fast forward to Week 6 of the NFL season. After a 3-0 start and a procolmation from the media that they were the team to beat in the NFC, the Cowboys had dropped two of their last three games and seemed to be on the verge of imploding. T.O. pouted publicly and questioned the play calling and his quarterback's decision-making after a loss to the Redskins. This past Sunday, after a ridiculous loss to the same Cardinal team that allowed Brett Favre to throw six touchdown pasess, Owens flat-out refused to talk to the media and then decided to insult a reporter after being questioned.

That came on the heels of a return appearance by "Pacman," who reportedly slugged it out in a hotel bathroom with a body guard who had been hired as part a security team that was assembled strictly to keep Jones from getting into altercations with others. Tank Johnson was interviewed and gave a ringing endorsement of his teammate by saying that the incident didn't involve the team and didn't impact the team or the league. So, in the World According to Tank, Jones should be allowed to continue playing. Those comments were made in the middle of the week. you think that the chaos and uncertainty surrounding the incident might have played at least a tiny part in your team's loss on Sunday? Well, I guess both Deion and Tank, two fellas with impeccable reputations, can't both be wrong about "Pacman," er, Adam.

Those who have played for the Cowboys during the Jerry Jones regime speak fondly of the man. Michael Irvin, another credible source, credits Jones for his turnaround. Troy Aikman says that Jerry Jones was a father figure to him. Other former players frequent the teams practice facilities and offices, because Jerry Jones encourages them to come back and treats them like kings when they do.

Could it be that Jerry Jones is just too nice of a guy to turn his back on these guys? That he just wants to help these young men get their lives on track? That his pursuit of these "rebels" has nothing to do with winning football games? Or is he so obsessed with winning that he just doesn't care what type of person takes the field representing his organization?

The problem is that championship teams traditionally are filled with people of character who possess the work ethic, commitment to team values and respect for their livelihood that is necessary to stay in peak mental and physical condition and help them overcome the obstacles and setbacks that are part of every season. Talent alone rarely wins championships, but talented players who have little regard for anyone but themselves can cause an implosion.

Dallas, we have a problem - again. The Cowboys will implode in 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 ... or has it already happened? There is some poetic justice here. However you slice him or whatever you want to call him - whether it's "Pacman" or "Adam" - the younger Jones can't cover an NFL receiver consistently right now. So, this may turn out to be a test of whether the elder Jones really is a nice guy who wants to help these troubled young men succeed or if it really is all about the almighty "W."

The disturbing part of all this is that next year the Cowboys will move into a billion-dollar stadium that certainly will celebrate what the franchise has accomplished under Jerry Jones. That move will be accompanied by celebrations of the franchise and the success it has enjoyed with Jerry Jones at the helm. And while fans may be disgusted by the current state of affairs in Dallas and while this year's edition of America's team is fast becoming a public relations disaster, all of those "diehard" Cowboys fans scattered around the country who have never set foot in Dallas will gladly forgive and forget if the Lombardi Trophy is returned to the "Big D" - even if they'll never actually get there to see it.

The rest of the American public and the corporate community won't forget, however, and the possibility that these players will become accepted and productive members of the community after their playing days are done is remote, to say the last. Jerry Jones might think he's doing these guys a favor, but in reality he's nothing more than an enabler who may in fact be crippling them for life.

It's no wonder so many retired NFL players are broke within five years of playing their last game. They spend most of their adult lives in a fantasy world in which no one is held accountable and their quality of life is determined by how well they play a game. It's so important for these players to surround themselves with quality people who will give them sound personal, business and financial advice. Unfortunately, many of them don't realize that until it's too late.


Erin Jean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Erin Jean said...

Hi Scott. Thanks for the twitter follow. I grew up basically where Harford County, MD and York County, PA touch so I had my choice of home team when I was old enough to understand football. The Colts left Baltimore and started in Indianapolis the year I was born...(yes I am young) and I wasn't that impressed with the Eagles. Strongly disliked them actually. So I broadened my search and started to follow the Cowboys the year Jones bought them. Now even after being a fan of Dallas since 89 I agree with you FULLY in this blog. I gave up a lot of hope on them after last season due to many reasons. Yeah I know 13 -3 but seriously, When Romo totally screwed a game due to his :::cough::: "inspiration" Jessica Simpson being in the stands... what was that? and his pass being intercepted with 9 seconds left!!! Careless! His ego was so big it got in the way of his pass! The Cowboys are not, and haven't been, America's team for far too long and its going to take more than a trophy to reinstate my "die hard fan" status. If they get rid of the criminals (ha there goes most the nfl), at least make an attempt at building a worthy roster, play a few decent seasons without careless mistakes, AND win the super bowl, maybe I will consider paying attention. But where the season stands now I don't even have the drive to sit through an entire game without the worry I will be thoroughly disappointed. Besides, I am 37 weeks pregnant, if anything is going to bring on labor I rather it not be my disappointment in the cowboys!

Gail said...

I think Jerry Jones takes these guys for the "show" aspect as much as their athletic potential. If they don't do their job on the field...oh, well. It's not like he doesn't make these moves time and again.

Anonymous said...

Amen to your last paragraph. Many times talented young men from poor, dysfunctional families are give buckets of money ahd sudden fame as pro's and then are expected to deal with all of it "maturely." What are the chances? Unless -- they happen to play for a coach and/or owner who actually mentors them, like Tony Dungy. It's fun to see a "good guy" be successful, and I don't think just those of us from Indiana appreciate that.

I have to add that Tony couldn't do it if Bill Polian and Jim Irsay weren't of the same mind. Good for all of them.