Despite being the leader and architect of the last Golden era in Dallas Cowboys history and winning two Super Bowls in the early ’90s, Jimmy Johnson’s relationship with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has been rocky ever since.
It’s all football lore now, but Johnson and Jones had an ego clash at the height of Dallas’ success and Johnson was forced out. Jones spitefully hired former Oklahoma Sooners head coach Barry Switzer, who took the team that Johnson cultivated into champions and won a third Super Bowl in 1996.
That was the last time Dallas as much as sniffed a serious run at the Super Bowl. We’re going on 30 years now.
Some call it the “Curse of Jimmy Johnson.” Others just add it to the list of egomaniacal moves made by Jerry Jones, undoubtedly a corporate tycoon, world conqueror and world-class control freak. Jones is notorious as a powerful owner and respected mogul who refuses to stop meddling in the day-to-day operations of the team. His inability to relinquish power to more capable men has kept the Cowboys in pretender status since Johnson departed.
All of these years later, the relationship between Johnson and Jones was reportedly healing. Last year, Jones even announced that Johnson would finally be inducted into the Cowboys Ring of Honor.
Jerry Jones announced former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson will be inducted into the Cowboys Ring of Honor
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) August 5, 2021
That was almost a year ago. Not sure what changed recently but Jones is backtracking on his original statement and isn’t showing the same enthusiasm.
Jones was asked a series of questions about Johnson’s long overdue Ring of Honor induction again last week following the announcement that AT&T Stadium would be one of 16 host sites for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
“Nothing determined out there at all. That’s something that I’ve never really decided upon almost until a week or two before I do it.”
“Really. No, it’s never been something that’s had a long tail to it in thought process. Obviously, the people are qualified, are career-qualified. So that’s a career process. But as far as the timing of any individual that will ultimately be in that Hall of Fame, I don’t have that timeframe on that.”
YOU TALKED ABOUT JIMMY JOHNSON GETTING IN
“I understand that. I really understand that would be a part of the question, but the answer is I don’t have a timeline.”
Jones’ stance on Johnson has softened over the years and in 2016, he even admitted he “should’ve had a little more tolerance’ with Jimmy Johnson” back when the tandem was winning championships.
Jones made similar comments to ESPN in 2014, saying in part about his falling-out with Johnson, “I should have exercised tolerance and patience. I did not.”
Just because Jones can admit when he’s wrong, however, doesn’t mean that he’s not going to make Jimmy Johnson sweat for this honor. Not many men have challenged Jones’ omnipotence over the years like Johnson has. Johnson hasn’t been shy about using his platform as an NFL talking head to take jabs at Cowboys culture.
When Jones announced that Johnson would be inducted into the Ring of Honor in 2021, no one was more shocked than Johnson himself, who asked if the induction would happen “When I am alive?”
Johnson knows Jones as well as anybody. He’s dealt with the full scope of Jones’ narcissism, especially when Jones was young and still on the come-up as a team owner. He knows that you have to catch the 79-year-old owner on the right day. When he’s compelled to do a good deed.
Jimmy Johnson on one day being added to Cowboys Ring of Honor: "I think the media is more concerned about this than I am. Actually Jerry has told me numerous times that he was going to put me in the Ring of Honor. Whenever he's in a good mood and he feels like it, he can do it."
— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) July 14, 2021
Maybe Johnson knew something we didn’t. Maybe it was just Jerry Jones grandstanding and stealing the show from a panel of guys who actually played and coached the game. The mental warfare between these two guys might never end, but if you poll most Cowboys fans and players, they all would say Jimmy Johnson deserves the honor.
— Spoon Keeps it 💯 💪🏾✭ (@Spoonie881) June 18, 2022
Jimmy Johnson not being in the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor diminishes what a Ring of Honor is supposed to be! Shameful!
— Sean Salisbury (@SeanUnfiltered) September 25, 2018
He’ll eventually get his induction, but the love Johnson receives from Cowboys Nation to this day probably bothers the heck out of Jerry Jones, who also wants to be the most loved figure to Cowboys fans. Johnson will have his day, but in the meantime, Jones doesn’t mind making him sweat it out, no matter how petty he looks.