SAN ANTONIO — I’ve long admired the immense loyalty that longtime Dallas Cowboys fans have toward the legendary Tom Landry.
It’s obviously easy to understand why. The man presided over arguably the greatest stretch in professional sports history. And that’s why it fascinates me when I’ve met NFL fans who have taken their allegiances to other franchises because of their perceived treatment, by Jerry Jones, to the end of the Thomas Wade Landry era.
I’ve even met Cowboys fans who say they’re no more than casual fans of America’s Team since the sad departure of the creator of the 4-3 defense.
What does that say about the feelings the fanbase has, even to this very day, toward current owner Jerry Jones? Can you imagine Tom Landry being fired in this day and age, the social media time zone? The billionaire owner of the Cowboys would have to go into hiding for two or three weeks. Some Cowboys fans are as sour now about the whole episode as they were 20-plus years ago.
But even Jerry, given all his flamboyant nonsense, apparently knew what he was doing, because it didn’t take long to smell glory again. The great Jimmy Johnson quickly rebuilt, thanks in large part to Herschel Walker, another dynasty era for the most popular team in the National Football League. But did even that allow longtime faithful of The Great Innovator, as he was called, to officially forgive Jerry for that time in Cowboys history?
For many fans, truth be told, no.
Twenty-nine years is LONG in the sports world. Tom Landry was likely a second father through television to many kids, even dads, during his remarkable run at the helm of The Star. It’s just something that completely fascinates me, that some Cowboys fans are no longer because of the way his firing was handled.
And that’s a fair point, I’ll give ‘em that. But to look at the results of Landry’s final three seasons would suggest that the time had come for change. And of course that, compounded by new ownership, the Jones family made everything inevitable.
It’s not unlike the Bob Knight saga that unfolded in Bloomington, Indiana years ago. His record of controversy is long and, sadly, distinguished. But even all these years later, many IU faithful will never see the other side of the argument, that RMK deserved what he got.
Loyalty for sports fans is second-to-none. I'm not sure anyone would ever argue with that. And that brings me to Dallas Cowboys football, 2019 style.
This team looks to be dangerously good. It’s been well-documented about that nearly quarter-century-long drought of championship success. Who would have ever predicted in 1995 that the ‘Boys would still be waiting to taste that again.
But might this be that year? And would those that have been around since the Dallas Cowboys were born come back if something special appeared to be playing out? I’m not sure there’s any middle ground to fans' feelings about Jerry: They either like him, or they don’t. But if Mr. Jones, again, built this thing into another yearly championship contender, I wonder if those who’ve never forgiven him for firing the man in the fedora might decide to do so for the sake of the most identifiable franchise in all of professional sports.