With the recent news that the Dallas Cowboys named Bill Callahan the play caller for 2013 in what was a long, drawn out process, as well as Antrel Rolle’s comments about the Cowboys not having “all the pieces to the puzzle,” it still rings true that America’s Team is never too far from the spotlight.
Owner Jerry Jones likes it that way.
That is not entirely bad, of course, as the team is the most valuable North American sports franchise. They are also, along with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team with the biggest fan base nationwide. However, whether the team is good or bad, the spotlight seems to shine brightest on the Cowboys and their colorful owner.
Sure, people say that any publicity is good publicity, but with the Cowboys, you get the feeling that most of the time, the bad publicity and negativity outweigh the good. Over recent years, they have been mediocre, yet they are still discussed nightly on the NFL Network’s Total Access show. And most of those discussions have yielded more critical reviews than positive.
If Jerry Jones really wanted to fix that, he could take a page from some of his fellow contemporaries in NFL ownership. They still have their teams noticed, but it doesn’t affect their on-field results.
Nearly week to week, we’ll hear some news involving the Cowboys and whether the topic at hand will be a “distraction” to the team in their upcoming game. But if you look at the Steelers and the New England Patriots, for example, there is virtually none of that.
The Steelers were founded in 1933, with Art Rooney as the original owner before his son Dan took over in 1975. Remarkably, since 1969, the Steelers have had three head coaches. And each of those coaches has yielded a Super Bowl for the black and gold. Chuck Noll won four in the 1970s, Bill Cowher one during his time from 1992-2006, and Mike Tomlin, the current coach, has won one. You’ll hear the Rooneys in the news every week, but it does not hinder the team’s on-field performance. The Steelers are one of the most recognizable franchises in league history, and they have done it the old fashioned way: with class and success.
The Patriots have been much the same lately. Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick have led the NFL’s most recent dynasty, and they have done it in the same way as the Rooneys. All business, all the time, and they’ve garnered no overdone or undeserved publicity. They’ve done it by just winning football games.
Jerry Jones will never change his ownership strategy. And it’s not a bad thing if you’re talking about the team’s exposure to fans worldwide.
People know who the Dallas Cowboys are, they know that they are “America’s Team,” and if someone sees the iconic star logo as a decal attached to the back of a truck, or a hat in a sporting goods store, they most likely – hardcore fan or not – will be able to tell you what team it is.
But when it comes to results and winning, I think Jones could take a page from the Rooneys and Krafts of the world.
The Cowboys would have probably won more than three Super Bowls in the 1990s if Jimmy Johnson had stayed. And instead of hiring Jason Garrett as Wade Phillips’ successor, they could have gotten Jeff Fisher, one of the league’s recent successful coaches.
With the Steelers and Patriots, continuity is the key.
But even if Garrett is your guy and you feel comfortable with him, there is still no excuse for making the decision of who will be the next play caller a national story and multiple-week long, confusing dialogue between owner and head coach.
It hurts the team’s image – a once successful and classy organization under Tex Schramm and Tom Landry as well as Johnson’s coaching brilliance in the 1990s – and turns them into, honestly, every NFL fan’s whipping boy team.
Jones could change that with an adjustment in strategy.