Jerry Jones is arguably the best owner in the NFL. Grit your teeth and roll your eyes and then admit it: Down deep, you already knew that, didn't you?
ESPN recently surveyed all 32 of the league’s coaches, asking them which owner has the best reputation. The Steelers’ Dan Rooney earned five votes, the Broncos’ Pat Bowlen earned 4.5 and the Cowboys’ Jones earned four votes.
But wait. … I thought “no coach would want to work for Jerry’’ and “Jerry is a laughingstock’’ and “Jerry is a meddler’’ and “Jerry is an embarrassment’’?
To most of those who deal with Jerral Wayne Jones on a regular basis, those takes have generally always been baloney. Still, if I had a dollar for every time over the course of the last 18 years when I’ve had to correct a misunderstanding about the man, a dollar for every time I’ve chosen to justifiably defend the man. …
Well, if I had a dollar for every one of those times, I’d be rich enough to BE an NFL owner.
To me, the biggest revelation from the ESPN survey of the 32 coaches regarding the 32 owners is that only 11 of the 32 owners in the league received votes.
Wow. A full 21 of the owners aren’t respected enough by the coaches to get the nod over the “uncooperative,’’ “laughingstock,’’ “meddling,’’ “embarrassing’’ Jones?
Here’s the truth, and I’ve said it for years: There are, in the NFL, 32 different ways to skin a cat. And yet some of the same constants exist in all the winners.
There are demands. There is involvement. There is commitment. There is the bottom line.
“It's a nice compliment to hear your peers feel that way,’’ Jones told ESPN. “I think I've been a guy who always had had my share of criticism along with compliments, but I have always tried to make my organization work. That is the key. You always have to strive for success.’’
1. “My share of criticism along with compliments.’’ I would suggest that Jerry has endured more than his share of the former and less than his share of the latter – at least up until this survey.
2. “You always have to strive for success.’’ This is taken for granted in Dallas. Let me gently suggest that “striving for success’’ is not always assumed in every NFL city, where maybe some of the owners should be more willing to be laughed at and more willing to be called “meddlesome.’’
Speaking of which. … I continue to believe that Jerry’s rep as “impossible to work for’’ is a myth. Johnson, Switzer and Parcells – themselves powerful and colorful characters – all happily took jobs alongside him. And each of them had the normal NFL shelf life for a head coach.
I believe “meddling’’ is simply a critic’s way of saying an owner is involved. And again. … why wouldn’t/shouldn’t he be involved?
About those “constants’’ as they apply to ESPN winners Rooney, Bowlen and Jones:
Bowlen is just as much of a powerbroker as Jones is, but the Denver boss does it with more subtlety. (At the same time, let me note that I used to be a Broncos beat writer. And I still recall being in Colorado when Bowlen pedaled his bicycle the 60 miles from Denver to the team’s Greeley training camp and then held a press conference to talk about it. So he’s not THAT subtle.)
Rooney runs a family business not unlike Jones’, and the Pittsburgh boss famously shies from the spotlight. (At the same time, would a truly “shy’’ person choose to live in Pittsburgh as the football team chairman? I mean, wouldn’t a clinically shy person go work as an accountant or go live in Boise?)
Is there a “right’’ style? A “wrong’’ style?
Looks to me that the only “wrong’’ style is the one being employed by those 21 owners who couldn’t buy a vote.