Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Dallas Cowboys: not with a bang, but with a whimper

Last week's Dallas Cowboys director of scouting: Jeff Ireland, is the new GM of the Miami Dolphins. This is how a run of franchise success begins to end.


Around 1993, Dallas Cowboys WR Jimmy Smith got appendicitis, had surgery, had post-surgery complications, then missed training and playing time as he recovered. Jerry Jones did not pay Smith for the weeks he missed. Smith sued Jones, and won his back salary, plus some damages. Jerry Jones waived Jimmy Smith, and he went on to be a consistent Pro-Bowl receiver for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Jerry Jones, due to pettiness, and due to hubris over the wealth of talent on his 1994 era Dallas Cowboys team, gave away a future Pro Bowl WR.

When Jimmy Smith was waived, he was a talented yet still unproven prospect. He came from a small school, and he was a bit of a late developer as a player. His being waived was a kind of NFL disaster. Yet, it raised barely any notice in Dallas-Ft. Worth media. His departure barely merited a whimper.

In ensuing years, as a Cowboys team which was arguably the best NFL team of all time was dismantled during the original days of the brand new salary cap, the media reaction amounted to whimper, whimper, whimper. There goes Pro Bowl LB Ken Norton... whimper. There goes future Pro Bowl DT Jimmy Jones... whimper. There goes future Pro Bowl LB Darrin Smith... whimper. There go S Thomas Everett and S James Washington... whimper. There goes future Pro Bowl OG Kevin Gogan...whimper. There goes Pro Bowl C Mark Stepnoski... whimper. There goes valuable kick returner and third receiver Kelvin Martin... whimper. There goes special teams star, S Kenny Gant... whimper. Lots more players left. Rather than trading departing players early, thus receiving draft pick compensation for them, Jerry Jones just let them go. The Cowboys received no compensation for any of them. Jerry Jones had no idea, at that time, how to effectively manage a salary cap. Media response: whimper.

Today, Jeff Ireland is hired away to become GM of the Miami Dolphins. This is a disaster. Jeff Ireland first came to Dallas in 2001. When he eventually became director of scouting, in approx. 2003, the Cowboys were coming off about 8 years of the most futile drafting record in franchise history. The cupboard was bare. Who did Jeff Ireland draft?

  • Marcus Spears
  • Jay Ratliff
  • Chris Canty
  • Jason Hatcher
  • DeMarcus Ware
  • Anthony Spencer
  • Bradie James
  • Bobby Carpenter
  • Kevin Burnett
  • Terence Newman
  • Jacque Reeves
  • Pat Watkins
  • Courtney Brown
  • Andre Gurode
  • Julius Jones
  • Marion Barber
  • Jason Witten
  • Anthony Fasano
  • Patrick Crayton
  • Miles Austin
  • Isaiah Stanback
  • Nick Folk

I want to emphasize: the cupboard was BARE. Now the Cowboys have an excellent team. And Jeff Ireland is gone.

Since Ireland was acting as de facto GM of the Cowboys, why couldn't Jerry Jones make Ireland the official Cowboys GM, with appropriate raise in pay, and thus keep him from Bill Parcell's clutches?

Answer: Jerry Jones MUST BE known as Owner-GM of the Dallas Cowboys. That title: Owner-GM, is worth more to Jerry Jones than money. That title: Owner-GM, is worth more to Jerry Jones than Super Bowl victory. That title is worth more to him than on field success. That title is everything to Jerry Jones. It's how he defines himself. It's the reason he gets up in the morning. He'll never give that title up. He'll never give it up, even if it means losing talent, such as Jeff Ireland, to the Dolphins. And this is how a run of franchise success begins to end: not with a bang, but with a whimper.

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