If Mr. Jones Wants Cowboys To Be Big Stars Again, He’ll Call Mark Cuban…
The seemingly impossible task for Jones — is effortless for Cuban
FRISCO, TX — It’s been well over a generation since 1993 when both Dallas Cowboys fans and rock band “Counting Crows” both said, “Mr. Jones and me, we’re gonna be big stars.”
The Dallas Cowboys’ owner and General Manager, Mr. (Jerry) Jones,’ once a big star, is now a black hole. His burnout is evidenced by his frustration, which boiled-over in an off-put smorgasbord of recent comments to the media. Most of this chatter was a result of discontent in his team’s failure to secure a division title. Jones also issued threats, signaling his eighth head coaching change in three decades is likely looming.
The notably errant comments even spurred an unexpected reaction from one of the franchise’s most visible alumni, Troy Aikman. The Hall-of-Fame quarterback and FOX Sports analyst voiced his opinion that Jones, himself, is responsible for the Cowboys’ lack of success, according to The Washington Post.
On the flip side, a proprietor of one of the other, more-recently successful local franchises, the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, may hold the recipe the Cowboys can’t seem to find. They’re, of course, one of the other three local pro sports clubs that have each competed for titles twice since the Cowboys last did so (Super Bowl XXX). Upon buying the team, their present owner, Mark Cuban, admitted he was one of the “guys up in the cheap seats,” who couldn’t “pay more than ten dollars a game to come and watch.”
Unlike Aikman, former Mavs Forward Dirk Nowitzki spent his (future) Hall-of-Fame career lauding his owner for consistently placing the team in a position to win. According to an NBA.com article from 2017, Mavs owner Mark Cuban “is the rare owner who not only faces the music, he composes and plays it, and very often at ear-blasting volume.”
Jones and Cuban have now ruled-over half of their respective franchises’ existence (20/40 seasons for Cuban and 30/60 seasons for Jones), which means ample statistics exist. Those statistics prove Aikman to be spot-on!
The Implosion of Jerry Jones
Mr. Jones’ denigrating public comments, served-up right alongside Thanksgiving dinner, signaled a catastrophic boiling-point for Cowboys fans. That day’s loss to the Bills prompted many fans to wonder if either the anemic Cowboys offense or ingesting all that tryptophan (or both), catalyzed the unusually-strong, intense nap during the second half of their 26–15 demise.
If you woke up, you might recall a post-game interview, where Jones stated that it’s ‘Super Bowl or Bust’ for Head Coach Jason Garrett, whose Cowboys are 7–8 on the year.
The ultimatum is understandable and, to Jones’ credit, is a tool that many leaders often use that has proven successful. In those cases, the warning is usually followed with patience and silence, allowing time for the man in the hot-seat to prove-up.
Aikman knows, this isn’t Jerry’s style — and expressed that on December 3rd.
“It’s been going on for 20 years, and at some level, there are players that start feeling that, ‘Oh, okay. (Jones) is the guy who’s calling all the shots,’” said Aikman.
The preceding week, Dallas had narrowly lost, by a score of 13–9 to the reigning World Champion New England Patriots, on the road, no less.
Following that heartbreaker, Jones told FM 105.3, ‘THE FAN’ that the arguable ‘GOAT,’ Tom Brady, “kept that team out of harm’s way and let other factors win the game for him.”
Ironically, the comment, in and of itself, was a demonstration by Mr. Jones of the exact move he praised Brady for avoiding. The fans and team still shared hopes for a deeper playoff run, or perhaps, a Super Bowl after such a tight defensive battle in New England. Why shouldn’t they? If the narrow loss to the Pats isn’t enough, then consider last season…
In 2018, after a 3–5 start, The Washington Post suggested Garrett, or defensive guru Scott Linehan may be fired at season’s end, following a loss to the Tennessee Titans. That sentiment erased itself with seven victories in the final eight games. Dallas advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs before losing 30–22 to the soon to be NFC-champion Rams.
This year’s Cowboys didn’t respond like last year. They responded with two consecutive Thursday night losses, to the Bills and then to the Bears.
Less than 24 hours after the loss in the Windy City, Mr. Jones hit the airwaves in the December 6th episode of that same regular radio show. While many fans thought Jones was a fool in uttering the Brady comment and giving the ultimatum — in this show, he opened his mouth once again and removed all doubt.
When asked by 105.3’s hosts if the team had “quit on Jason Garrett,” Mr. Jones declined to critique player performance. However, he explained himself, sourly-quipping, “there’s a whole bunch of time…that I have to bull***t the hell out of you.” For censoring purposes, the producers cut him off briefly. Then, Mr. Jones’ voice emerged again, asking a question, “you know what Bull***t is, right fellas?”
The recent commentary, blunders, and public denunciation from the former franchise quarterback demonstrate that Mr. Jones not only fatally altered the outlook of their team, but also their number one lifeline: their customer — the fans.
Of course, Mr. Cuban, the most recent owner to deliver serious hardware to DFW, once said,
“treat your customers like they own you — because they do.”
The Guy In The Cheap Seats
Cuban rolled into the DFW Metroplex seven-years before Jones bought the Cowboys. Unlike Mr. Jones’ migration from Arkansas, Cuban was a fan first, and certainly wasn’t in town to buy a sports team — nor did he have the dough.
Since coming to the Big D in 1982, Cuban slowly and methodically compiled just enough. Cuban’s ascent to ‘prominent star-status’ came by taking on roles as a bartender, salesperson, day-trader, software reseller, and finally, founder of Broadcast.com. The latter, he sold to Yahoo! in 1998 for $5.7 billion in stock.
Accurately prognosticating what would be dubbed the “Dot-Com bubble,” Cuban quickly hedged his stock because the sale terms dictated that he couldn’t sell it immediately.
The hedging allowed him to get out early with his $1.3 billion in proceeds despite shares of Yahoo! stock imploding by 90%. He then diversified his investments in media, communications, technology, consumer products, and numerous startups and ventures — and ultimately: The Mavs.
As the owner of one of the NBA’s most unsuccessful clubs, Cuban became nationally recognized for racking up fines levied by the league’s commissioner. However, hindsight proves this was an intellectual investment that earned Cuban and the Mavericks two critical assets:
- Fans showing up to watch Cuban first, and then a team that was previously known for losing so often, that Dallas’ NHL franchise (that year’s reigning Stanley Cup Champions) became more popular in a land in which a farm pond seldom freezes thicker than an inch.
- Respect. Cuban earned-it by getting his team’s back without any regard for his pocketbook. He once worked at a Dairy Queen proving he could back-up his comment to the press that NBA head of officiating, Ed Rush, wasn’t qualified for that role. (A scandal a few years later proved Cuban right.)
Aikman also pointed out that the Cowboys have only won three playoff games in the last 25-seasons, to support his thesis that Jones, not Garrett, is the problem.
This year also marks the point at which Cuban and Jones have owned their respective teams for half of their respective organizational lifespans. Both Cuban and Jones successfully turned around struggling franchises. Ironically, Jones bought the dynasty, won three titles, and can’t win anymore. Cuban bought a total crapshoot, and can’t lose.
When the Pittsburgh native cut the check for the Mavs on January 14, 2000, the franchise was 615–946 all-time and an abysmal 11–26 nearly half-way through the 1999–2000 season (winning percentages of .394, and .314, respectively). Following the swap, the ‘99/’00 Mavs went 29–16. They capped the season off with an unfathomably promising 40–42 record.
Today, they’re in the ‘Luka Dončić era,’ the second generation of top-quality basketball in Dallas. They’re 20–10 on the year. An average record of 32–50 all-time before Cuban’s era, has since flipped, to a 50–32 per-season average. While the Cowboys have won only three playoff games,’ the Cuban-owned Mavs (starting just under four years following Jones’ last Super Bowl) — have won 12 seven-game playoff series,’ two NBA Western Conference titles, and a World Championship.
Sports fans, or business gurus, for the most part, think “Cuban” when someone utters the term: “Dallas Mavericks.” Doubtless, the same is considered valid for names such as Meredith, Dorsett, Staubach, Lilly, Landry, Aikman, Smith, Irvin, and anyone but Jones. Additionally, like Jones back in 1994, Cuban didn’t need to fire a coach and hire another to prove a point.
The ‘credit’ for Jones will only come if he can find his 1989-self by focusing-on his customer, the worldwide fan base — and take his hands-off the team. If Jones could go so far as to work at a Dairy Queen to get the back of any coach or player, then all the better.
Until that day, however, rivals in Washington, New York, and Philly will blush with joy while Cowboys fans will continue to plead…“pass me a bottle, Mr. Jones.”