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'That hurt': Jimmy Johnson tells us the final straw in his fallout with Jerry Jones and the Cowboys

Johnson was the driving force behind the Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl success in the mid-90s after leading the University of Miami to a national championship.

DALLAS — On another sun-drenched day in the Florida Keys, Hall of Famer and former Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson enjoys his personal paradise. 

"The greatest time of my life is right now," Johnson said, as he gave WFAA a personal tour of his boat. "This is my 21st boat."

"So, is that your biggest decision each day, Coach? Which boat to use," I joked with Johnson.

Johnson could not have been any more in his element for this interview.

"I love it here in the Keys. It just ... It is. It's great living," Johnson said.

Credit: WFAA

Before fishing for Wahoo or Sailfish off the coast of Florida, though, Johnson's home was the sideline on the gridiron. 

Iconic. Legendary. Brash. Johnson was the driving force behind the Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl success in the mid-90s after leading the University of Miami to a national championship. 

"We were disciplined, and we were not a highly penalized team," Johnson said. "But I let our guys be themselves. I wanted them to celebrate. I wanted them to be individuals."

Confidence was the key to their swagger, according to Johnson. They were unapologetic about it, too.

"We were confident we were going to kick somebody’s a--," Johnson said.

Johnson's teams always oozed swagger, giving his new memoir a fitting title: Swagger: Super Bowls, Brass Balls, and Footballs. The book traces Johnson's unrelenting style that created championship-caliber football teams and his Hall of Fame coaching career. It also includes an unvarnished look at what it meant for his family. 

"It's almost an apology that sacrifice our relationships to win football games," Johnson said.

Watch the "One minute drill" with Johnson on WFAA's YouTube channel

And, yes, there is an entire chapter dedicated to Johnson's relationship with Cowboys owner, president and general manager Jerry Jones.

"[Jerry is] a passionate, hardworking guy," Johnson told WFAA. "One of the smartest businessmen I've ever known. And I consider him a friend. But I never know how the relationship is one day to the next."

Johnson told me in our interview that winning set the stage for their famous fallout, with Jones thirsting for more credit.

"Jerry [was] so involved in paying off that loan, so he wasn't over on the football side of the building very often. The first three or four years for sure," Johnson said.

Johnson said Jones once told him that he could make $5 million and no one would care, and meanwhile, Johnson could trade for a backup offensive lineman and be the talk of the town. Then Jones said "I want to have some of that fun," according to Johnson. 

And that was the beginning of the end, Johnson said in our interview. 

Credit: WFAA

Jones once said that any of 500 coaches could have won Super Bowls with the 90s Cowboys teams. That was the final straw. I asked Johnson if her would ever forgive Jones for saying that. 

"Joe, that hurt," Johnson said. "I was very, very proud of what we accomplished. And for him not to respect that, that hurt me, and I don't know that I'll ever get over that hurt."

"For him to say that and he apologized the next day but that cut pretty deep," Johnson added.

Whether or not the memoir serves as a wedge between Johnson and the Cowboys Ring of Honor, which is hand-picked by Jones, remains unclear. 

"I know there's some things in the book that [Jerry is] not going to like, but they're truth. I mean, they're facts," Johnson said. 

Regardless, the Florida sun beams down on the former Cowboys coach, who is as confident and content as he's ever been. 

"I used to say the most fun time in my life is when I was winning championships. The most fun time in my life is right now.," Johnson said.

Credit: WFAA

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