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Open Letter to Jerry Jones and Fellow Cowboys Fans

I'm probably the biggest Cowboys fan on the planet, as I was baptized into fandom. 

I'm here to spare my fellow Cowboys fans of a lifetime of grief: so long as Jerry Jones owns the Dallas Cowboys, they will never return to the Super Bowl. 

This has nothing to do with the makeup of their roster, which they have nearly perfected this season, because it has everything to do with management and culture. 

Teams win with effective leaders and purposeful players, and dynasties are made from the cultures they create. 

The winning tradition of Cowboys football was resuscitated by Jimmy Johnson in 1989, but it was prematurely sacrificed in 1994 for the benefit of Jerry Jones' ego as Jones pressured Johnson out of Dallas before winning their final Super Bowl with Johnson's unit in 1996. 

Since then, the Cowboys have endured a twenty-three-year drought, without a single NFC Championship appearance over that stretch, posting a regular-season record of 186-172 (.519). 

For comparison, Tom Landry, the only head coach the Cowboys knew for twenty-nine consecutive years, posted a record of 250-162-6 (.607) over his entire career; however, he posted an incredible record of 208-79-2 (.725) between 1966 and 1985, when the Cowboys finished above .500 for each of those twenty seasons.

Of those twenty seasons, the Cowboys qualified for the playoffs in all but two seasons, and Landry led the 'Boys to twenty playoff wins. 

Thereafter the 'Boys went 7-9, 7-8 and 3-13, before Jerry Jones brought the historic Landry era to a close. 

Over the last twenty-three years, the Cowboys have qualified for the playoffs only nine times, and they've won only three playoff games over that span.

This isn't to suggest that the Cowboys haven't assembled competitive teams since their last Super Bowl appearance in 1996, because they've had four squads with a 10-6 record, one apiece with 11-5 and 12-4, and even two 13-win seasons; in the first of their two 13-3 seasons, in 2007, the Cowboys even sent thirteen players to the Pro Bowl, an NFL record. 

In each of those seasons, they qualified for the playoffs, only to lose in the Wild Card or Divisional round. 

The Jerry Jones-owned Dallas Cowboys have not lacked in the department of on-the-field talent, but rather they've been stifled by the front office and an egomaniac who appears wholly incapable of empowering a qualified coach to lead and field a winning team; in this sense, the death of Texas Stadium in 2010 signaled the beginning of the Jason Garrett era, the final phase of Jerry's overhaul as he unveiled his $1.3 billion stadium affectionately known as Jerry's World.

Jason Garrett would not be a head coach anywhere else in the National Football League, and the only reason that he's the head coach for the highest-profile sports organization in the world is because, through him its owner ensures that he will retain control. 

No qualified or proven coach will ever settle for work under the management of Jerry Jones, and the two most recent examples, Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells, illustrate the ill-fated experience of any such coach. 

I regret the present state and predictable direction of the team I love. 

When I see the lone blue star, I am reminded of childhood memories, both excitement and disappointment, and precious moments spent with my dad, who brainwashed me with his own cherished memories of the 1970s Dallas Cowboys, the likes of Drew Pearson, Randy White, Harvey Martin, Chuck Howley, Bob Lilly, Tony Dorsett, Mel Renfro, Charlie Waters, Cliff Harris, Larry Cole, Rayfield Wright, Jethro Pugh, Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Lee Roy Jordan, and "Bullet" Bob Hayes. 

Of course, I developed my own list over the decades: Deion Sanders, Michael Irvin, Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman, Larry Allen, Darren Woodson, Roy Williams, Dexter Coakley, Raghib "Rocket" Ismael, Terry Glenn, Terrell Owens, Jason Witten, DeMarcus Ware, Tony Romo, and Dez Bryant. 

I grew up with a Roger Staubach poster in my bedroom, which I inherited from my father who once hung it in his own, and I developed that love for the star into something more closely resembling family than fandom. 

Over the years, I attended Jay Novacek's football camps across Texas, where I had the distinct privilege of meeting and training with some of the Dallas Cowboys at the time. 

Given that this was during the early 2000s, they weren't necessarily the biggest of names in the NFL, but I can still remember the ineffable excitement I felt when I first met Quincy Carter, Billy Cundiff, Pete Hunter, Richie Anderson, Andre Gurode, Greg Ellis, and the dozens of others. 

There is no greater feeling, as a fan, than developing a real connection with a team, following them as they develop in pursuit of that final game of the year. 

During my entire life, I have greatly anticipated those opportunities to watch my Cowboys emerge from the tunnel with that blue star on their helmets, when I knew I had hours of Dallas Cowboys football ahead of me; when I knew that I had that special time with my dad when we could sit together, or chat over the phone across thousands of miles, following each play, reminiscing over our childhood Cowboys and debating which decade, or which Cowboys offensive line, reigned supreme. 

I've long relished these moments with my dad, and I wouldn't give them up for the world, and I really mean that. 

There's something incomparably special about a son's relationship with his father, and the instrument of sport has long forged an inseparable bond. 

I'm proud to share this one with my dad, and I'm proud to call myself the greatest Dallas Cowboys fan in the world, not because they're the most successful sports enterprise on the planet, nor because of their five Super Bowl victories and eight appearances, nor because they're "America's Team." 

I'm proud to call myself a Dallas Cowboys fan because of what they mean to me, because of the heritage behind the Landry Shift, and because of the bond between father and son and a team they've made their own. 

And while I won't allow one selfish bastard like Jerry Jones to singlehandedly sever that connection, I will no longer subject myself to the cruelty of false belief in an organization that fraudulently sports the star of a bygone tradition of excellence. 

Just as the United States dollar has been debased into virtual oblivion, so too has Jerry Jones diluted the power of our beloved team, only hopefully he'll retire before his contemporaries at the Federal Reserve, who appear nowhere near ready to quit. 

If Jerry Jones is interested in salvaging what remains of the Dallas Cowboys, and perhaps what remains of the spirit of its original fanbase, he will heed the warnings of this letter authored by possibly its most passionate member. 

If not, we can only wisely bid adieu in welcoming new possibilities and new traditions for ourselves, our children and the future of our sport. 

Any compromise at this time signals only willful ignorance of the obvious or utter indifference toward it all, invariably affecting Jerry Jones’ bank account all the same. 

It’s time that we, as fans, remember our power to effect the necessary change so we can one day, sooner than later, hoist up that Lombardi Trophy instead of the lavish lifestyles of the Joneses. 

Without it, we’re closer to Jerry’s next $250-million yacht than a team with any semblance of a real shot.


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