Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Dear Jerry, Please Coach
It would be the greatest sports story in the history of the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex. And it's the sports headline that I hope we see in about three weeks time: "Jerry Jones Fires Wade Phillips; Names Himself New Head Coach".
Can you imagine the mileage we would get out of this story? Newspaper columnists would write non-stop on the subject. Talk radio would explode. Dale Hansen would implode. Ozarka and Evian stock would soar as football fans everywhere would spend countless hours discussing the move around the water cooler at work. It would get more play than the Tiger story. Who says you need sex to sell? Jerry's insanity would trump Tiger's wood.
I pray each night to Baby Jesus that this scenario comes true. In my line of work, this kind of a story would be pure gold--better even than Mark Cuban appearing on Dancing With the Stars or Tom Hicks getting a sex-change*.
*Cuban appearing on DWTS did occur, however the Hicks sex-change is only a hypothetical as of now.
WHY IT NEEDS TO HAPPEN
Jerry is not fooling anyone. He IS the Cowboys head coach, just not in title. He is also the owner, president, general manager, chief mouthpiece, chief motivator, and official sideline patrolman. He has given some titles away in order to make the Cowboys look like a balanced organization. However, most of those titles were given to people whose last name also happens to be "Jones" and who directly sprang from Jerry's testes, so there is no danger of anyone questioning his authority.
Jerry's current head coach in title is nothing more than a defensive coordinator who gets to play dress up on Sundays. Wade Phillips even gives us a hint as to what goes on behind the scenes at Valley Ranch. On more than one occasion during his press conferences, Phillips has quipped "I can't answer that question until I find out what Jerry has to say," or "whatever Jerry says, that's what I think." And he's not kidding. Not one bit. Phillips doesn't have the power to poop without Jerry giving him the OK. Not that Wade would know what to do with any power, but that's for another blog post.
In other (normal) organizations, the head coach is the one who decides which players belong on the 53 man roster. He decides which players will start. He decides which players will be punished. He decides everything that has to do with the work week practice schedule, the travel schedule, the game day routine and lineup, and so on. That's the way it was when Landry and Johnson coached the Cowboys. The players knew who to answer to: the coach. Today's Cowboys? The players have no coach to answer to. Jerry decides lineups. Jerry decides fines. Jerry decides roster moves. All of the things that Landry and Johnson did in the past, Jerry does today.
From the moment he fired Jimmy, Jerry has been obsessed with getting credit for being a "football man". That credit was not given when Jerry and Barry Switzer hoisted a Super Bowl trophy in Tempe, as everyone simply dismissed the accomplishment with the "that's still Jimmy's team" thought. So Jerry's quest to escape the Jimmy shadow continued. Yet, since the time that "Jimmy's" team gradually dissipated, Jerry hasn't a single playoff win to show for it.
When Jerry was hired, he promised to be involved in everything including the "socks and jocks" (note: many believe that he would be best suited sticking to that promise and working as the team's laundry man). Indeed, Jerry has been in on everything and every decision in his 20 years with the Cowboys. So why not go all the way with this philosophy?
There is no doubt in my mind that Jerry has thought about coaching. He thinks he can do it all. He played at high level in college. He's been around the NFL for 20 years. He always says he's learned a lot from coaches like Parcells and Johnson. He's obviously comfortable on the sidelines, where he stands around and occasionally gets in the ears of the players--like a coach would. He gives the team halftime pep talks in the locker room--like a coach would. He wears coaches attire at practice--like a coach would. He makes all of the personnel decisions--like a coach would. HE THINKS HE'S A COACH! It's painfully obvious. Jerry is not fooling anyone.
He knows his idol Al Davis was a coach. He knows the two things he hasn't done in the NFL are play and coach. He's too old to play, but not too old to coach. He wrestles with the good and the bad that his becoming head coach would bring. He would love the limelight. He would hate the laughter. He would love running a practice. He would hate the laughter. He would love leading the team out of the tunnel and onto the field. He would hate the laughter.
Deep down, he thinks he could do it. He thinks he would be successful. That's how successful people generally think. They believe that they will always be able to make it work. If the bottom falls out on this season--and it's looking like it will--wouldn't this be the perfect time for Coach Jerry? Wade is proving that he's a good defensive coordinator, but someone who is uncomfortable in the role of a leader. Jason Garrett is proving he's not ready to be a head coach. Mike Shanahan, Bill Cowher and Mike Holmgren all want too much control.
Jerry is the only perfect coach for Jerry. Coach Jerry won't mind if Owner Jerry joins him on the sideline or usurps his power. Coach Jerry will agree with every move that GM Jerry makes. Coach Jerry won't mind President Jerry stealing the spotlight.
It's all too serendipitous, given the fact that next season's Super Bowl will be played at Jerry's new stadium. In Jerry's dreams he leads the Cowboys to a championship at his own stadium. And after the game, the crowning moment occurs: Jerry gets to hold up the Lombardi Trophy--by himself. No Jimmy, no Barry, no Jimmy shadow. Just Jerry Jones, Owner, President, General Manager, and Head Coach of the Dallas Cowboys
I realize that this Jerry-coach thing will never happen. I also realize that, either way, the Cowboys are doomed. As a fan once told me: "The Cowboys won't win another title until Stephen Jones' weekly duties include placing flowers at a certain tombstone in a certain Highland Park cemetery."