Revisit the ins-and-outs and hows-and-whys of the worst stretch of yearly misfortune that America's Team has ever endured, all under the leadership of Jerry Jones. From the infamous Dave Campo years, to Bill Parcells four-year term in Big D', all the way to present day and the many obstructions that Jason Garrett is faced with, Decade Of Futility offers compelling insight and stories about why the Dallas Cowboys have failed to succeed in the 21st century.
Sunday, February 3, 2013
The Day Jerry Jones Tossed Troy Aikman Aside
In Search For Head Coach, Jones’ Politics Reveals Just
Whose Image Is No. 1 At Valley Ranch
Public criticism had dogged his and his Cowboys’ steps every
inch of the way through a turbulent season that concluded in the smoke of a
6-10 train wreck.A very self-aware
Jerry Jones had just witnessed the official end to the Cowboys dynasty of the
1990’s as Dallas wobbled, teetered, and then finally crashed down the stretch
of the 1997 campaign, missing out on the playoffs for the first time in seven
Now, Jones was out to do more than just replace the departed
Barry Switzer as head coach.He was out
to protect the two sacred foundational pieces that make up the bottom-line in
Big D’; his trophy case and, yes, himself.
He desperately wanted to hire a head coach who called his
own plays, if only to quell the crazy rumor going around that a meddlesome
Jones spent the previous season in the suite of offensive coordinator Ernie
Zampese suggesting plays.Publicly, the
status-quo linked the necessity for an offensive mind with the health of
battered quarterback Troy Aikman.
That much was well known.What was not known, however, was just how sensitive the owner’s public
image had become.
After a few weeks of what was repeatedly referred to as an
“intensive coaching search,” it appeared that Aikman’s old ball coach at UCLA,
Terry Donahue, was all locked up for the job.Uh, in fact he was.A news
conference announcing the hiring of the fourth head coach in franchise history
had been scheduled.
But then Donahue read the small print on the contract.
The Cowboys had included a clause in Donahue’s contract,
clearly stating that he would be fined $25,000 every time he said anything that
might throw a poor light on the Cowboys, or in particular, Jerry Jones.
Donahue balked at it and walked away.
“We never thought the insubordination clause, and certainly
the money ($500,000 annually), would be the thing that turned it one way or the
other,” Jones said.“He was offered the
job…I did feel he’d come in as a coordinator on an entry-level basis [pay
scale] into the NFL as opposed to coming in as a Super Bowl coach.”
But then Jones tried to smooth things over and suggest that
Donahue wasn’t really the right man for the job, ignoring the fact that he was
merely hours away from announcing the news to the entire world. “…We were not
on the same page of how we were going to do things on offense,” Jones
said.“I was on the page whether he
could do it or not, but when the issues on the contract came up, I talked with
my son Stephen and we realized we were trying to put a larger foot in a small
shoe here.We’re trying to make
something happen, and we’re not a team that needs years to make something
Donahue wasn’t willing to tow the company line every week
during the season, especially on a team such as Dallas coming off a 6-10 season and with many
bumps still in front of them.
Jones finally found his man in Chan Gailey, who reportedly
signed the contract with the same clause in it that Donahue had issues with.
And this doesn’t mean that Gailey, an up and coming
assistant, was desperate for a head coaching job. Calling out his players or
owner publicly simply wasn’t in Gailey’s nature.Agreeing to those terms didn’t bother him in
But rather than protecting Aikman’s backside, the hiring of
Gailey proved to only shelter Jones.The
Cowboys now not only had a head coach doubling as an offensive coordinator, but
a man able and ready to wield feather duster and furniture polish in honor of
the Owner to each and every press conference.
All is Well!
So, with Jones having alighted upon the perfect solution to
safeguard his own domicile, the fact that his good buddy Aikman was to be
saddled with an offensive scheme that he couldn’t appreciate had suddenly lost