Breaking News
More () »

The unrelenting optimism of Jerry Jones: Oh, to see the world as optimistically as the Dallas Cowboys' owner does...

Owner Jerry Jones' pitch to Dallas Cowboys fans at his annual State of the Team press conference to kick off training camp? Blind hope, once again.

OXNARD, Calif. — How beautiful it must be to see the world like Jerry Jones, through rose-colored glasses.

No, running the planet's most valuable sports franchise is no simple task. But even at age 79, the Dallas Cowboys owner remains uniquely equipped with the proper perspective to play the role.

"I haven't talked to y'all in a long time," Jerry joked to reporters at the annual State of the Team press conference to kickoff Cowboys training camp on Tuesday. "I've got some stuff stored up."

What he had in store was the same relentless optimism he's expressed before every season since he bought the team in 1989. It was a presser filled with the same sort of Jerry-isms everyone knows and giggles at -- because, unlike Jerry, 99 percent of sports owners are void of public displays of humor.

"We're trying to find the secret sauce to go get another [Super Bowl]," he said before pausing and smiling, like he was doing a set at The Laugh Factory. "I've had a lot of sauce." 

Thing is, this past offseason was no laughing matter.

Cowboys Vice President of Communications Rich Dalrymple, you no doubt recall, unceremoniously retired after 32 years with the organization in February just before news broke of a voyeurism scandal involving him and the Cowboys cheerleaders that cost the team a reported $2.4 million settlement.

Then there was the paternity lawsuit, which was later dismissed, against Jones himself.

Meanwhile, there was (and still is) a little uncertainty surrounding Mike McCarthy's future as the Cowboys' head coach -- chatter that Jones tried to nip in the bud on Tuesday.

"I want to be real clear," the Cowboys' owner said during the press conference. "[McCarthy] wouldn't be sitting here, if I didn't think he was the man to lead us to a Super Bowl. He wouldn't be. And I have choices."

Speaking of choices: The Cowboys chose to let go of three talented starters at already-thin positions this offseason.

And yet: "I think we're in better shape today to make a run at [the Super Bowl] than when we were sitting here last year," Jerry assess on Tuesday.


* * * * *

Listen, I spent the first six autumns of my professional career lamenting the chronic lunacy and foolishness of the Buffalo Bills.

Long before they became the Super Bowl favorites (much less playoff contenders) that they are today, that franchise was as dysfunctional as Succession's Roy family.

Mind-numbing coaching and senseless personnel decisions by the front office translated to putrid football. 

How could it not?

In those six seasons, the Bills saw eight different starting quarterbacks and five different head coaches.

I want to be clear: I didn't get into sports journalism to spew hot takes. But there are times when an opinion is warranted.

And, when you watch every second of every game of a third straight 6-10 season, you earn the right to speak louder on behalf of the fans. If it means going scorched earth from time to time, so be it.

When I was hired by WFAA in March 2018, though, I made it a point to shut up and listen.

To observe and absorb.

It was new territory. 

New teams. 

New fans.

The last thing I wanted to do was to arrive in North Texas and act like I knew everything. Because I didn't. And I still don't.

Alas, fear of resentment propagates nothingness.

* * * * *

"I think we're in better shape today to make a run at it, than we were sitting here last year."

Are you kidding me?

I don't care how much "sauce" Jerry spiked into this year's batch of Cowboys Kool-Aid. I'm not drinking it.

The Dallas Cowboys are not in a better place today than they were this time a year ago.

No logical or rational member of Cowboys Nation could possibly disagree with that notion.

And, filled with unmitigated optimism though Jerry may be (as he is every year around this time), the glaring reality is: This team's latest Super Bowl window is closing.

The Cowboys had their shot last year. It came during Wild Card Weekend. At home. Against Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers.

The Cowboys had their full complement of weapons. The had the Defensive Rookie of the Year. They had a defense with an unsustainable rate of takeaways, but that was at least playing pretty well.

And they lost in the most post-millennium Cowboys-y way possible.

Since that nationally televised brain fart, the roster has become less productive and less experienced.

Pro Bowl receiver Amari Cooper was traded to the Cleveland Browns for a ham sandwich.

Resurgent defensive end Randy Gregory signed with the Denver Broncos after the Cowboys bumbled the contract negotiations.

And La'el Collins was let go despite being one of better right tackles in the NFL.

To replace them, the Cowboys will turn to their bench in hopes that their backups can rise to the challenge.

On Tuesday, Jerry cited those players' availability (or lack thereof), along with cost, as why the Cowboys felt comfortable parting ways with them.

"Availability had everything to do with it," Jones said.

To his point? Collins missed 2020 with a hip injury followed by a substance abuse suspension for the first five games of 2021. And Gregory missed a handful of games last season with a calf injury. But Cooper? He missed just two games last year -- his only two over the last three seasons -- and those absences were due to COVID-19. They guy had multiple injuries throughout his time in Dallas -- but more often than not played through them.

Sure, the Cowboys could -- and should -- win their division again, even if Philadelphia will present a tough test this year. But winning the lowly NFC East should not be a measuring stick for a team with championship aspirations.

If the Cowboys are indeed "in better shape" this year, we'll know for sure by mid-November. That's because, in four of their first nine games, the Cowboys will face Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, the AFC Champion Bengals and the Super Bowl Champion Los Angeles Rams.

I've often wondered: Has Jerry Jones always been so whimsically hopeful? Or is his subconscious simply the welded product of owning America's PR Machine for 33 years?

Is it the rose-colored glasses?

Or is it because public shows of optimism paint a rosier picture than what's really going on here?

Paid Advertisement

Before You Leave, Check This Out