D.A.: The Embarrassing, Awkward End For Jerry Jones

Jones is "the center of non-stop drama," Damon Amendolara says, a punchline that won't go away

Damon Amendolara
July 31, 2018 - 3:36 pm

USA Today Images

The Cowboys were known as "America's Team" because they embodied what the country wanted to see in itself. The Cowboys were powerful, glamorous, and most of all, winners. Referring to the organization by that moniker now feels like mockery, a snide shot at what it no longer is. Dallas has won two playoff games in two decades. It's had 7 losing seasons since the last Super Bowl appearance. If the Cowboys are still "America's Team," it's because they embody what the country actually is: entrenched in hollow celebrity, stuck in its own nostalgia, and addicted to controversy. 

The face of this franchise, as it has been for nearly three decades, is Jerry Jones. If everything is bigger in Texas, Jerruh's ego certainly qualifies. This is a man who once set out to prove any coach could win with his roster, so he hired a college retread who happened to be his drinking buddy. Jones is still swinging his massive bag of bravado, but with far less desirable results. Jerruh has had two great coaches under his watch, Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells. Both left abruptly from exhaustion with the inner politics. 

Jerruh has now been relegated to talkative old codger, a rambling mess in the mold of Al Davis' decline. The NFL would like the anthem controversy to fade out of public display, but here was Jones once again weighing in, and throwing down his oversized gauntlet. He proudly proclaimed his team would all stand for the anthem, and do it "toe on the line." But since Jones is now relegated to bumbling halfwit, he was embarrassingly caught on camera not removing his hat during the anthem at training camp. Hard to take a man's anthem stance seriously when he forgets the most basic show of respect. 

The NFL has told Jerruh to shut his yap on this issue, hoping a fire burns out without oxygen. But because Jones prides himself on being the mouthpiece of the owners, and thus the league, the next humiliation is just around the corner. Whether it's domestic violence, player safety, international expansion, or the general mediocrity of the Cowboys, Jones has always and will always speak. He has never met a microphone he didn't like. 

The problem is the NFL has created its own monster. Jones has had plenty of business victories as owner. Licensing deals, merchandise marketing, opulent practice facilities, a palatial stadium with every bell and whistle possible. All of this has led to his canonization by the league and owners. Last year he was inducted into Canton. There was a fawning documentary by NFL Films. He owns a massive amount of influence in league decisions. This has only led to Jones being even more craven, basting in the bin of his own ego even longer. Of course you need my thoughts on the league. I'm a Hall of Famer, dadgummit!

The messy reality, though, is Jerry is one of the least successful GMs in league history. Since Johnson left in '93, the cupboard has been dark. Sure, Stephen Jones has taken over much of the personnel duties, and drafting recently has taken on a more pragmatic approach. But for every Jason Witten, Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, there's been Quincy Carter, Bobby Carpenter and Mo Claiborne. Dave Campo, Chan Gailey, and Jason Garrett. The three straight 5-11s in the early 2000s. The three straight 8-8s at the start of this decade. No other football architect could hold onto his job despite building so little infrastructure for so long. But that job security is inherent when you own the team, just ask Mike Brown in Cincinnati. 

Bob Sturm is a host on Dallas' longtime sports talk power, The Ticket. He told Scott Ferrall on CBS Sports Radio: “As (Jerry) has gotten older, he’s morphed into Al Davis: a famous dude who probably lost his fast ball a long time ago and now just wants to be surrounded by people who don’t give him any trouble... That’s why Jason Garrett has never come close to losing his job here. In 20 seasons of following this team, I’ve seen two playoff wins." This is where the rot starts, the problem at the fundamental core of the franchise. Jerry isn't pushing for greater on-field success. He's not desperate for a title like Mike Ilitch was at the end in Detroit. His trophy is quarterly earnings, annual revenues, the Forbes list of most valuable franchises. Football wins? Meh. 

Last year, Jerry battled the league on Zeke Elliot's suspension. He threatened to sue the NFL over the contract extension of Roger Goodell. He's the center of non-stop drama. This is actually a perfect metaphor if you're trying to be America's Team. We are a country distracted by the debate of the moment, flipping channels between controversies, avoiding some of the core problems that plague us. What's Jerry gonna say today? Is Dez Bryant upset at teammates? How long will Zeke be suspended? Why are the Cowboys defending violence against women? Should Greg Hardy have a job? The show marches on, more theater than football. The comfortable home of Jerry Jones.  

Damon Amendolara, known by his fans as D.A., hosts “The D.A. Show,” from 9:00AM-12:00PM, ET, across the country on the nation’s largest 24/7 major-market radio network. “The D.A. Show” is known for its unique perspective on sports, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, colorful listener interaction, and candid interviews with athletes and coaches. Amendolara also appears regularly on NFL Network as part of the “NFL Top 10” documentary film series, CBS television and SNY TV. He is a Syracuse University grad and native of Warwick, N.Y.