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Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones announced on Sunday before the team’s game against the Carolina Panthers that former head coach Jimmy Johnson would be inducted in the Cowboys Ringo of Honor.
Jones said Johnson would be inducted on Dec. 30th when the Cowboys play the Detroit Lions.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) November 19, 2023
“It feels right,” Jones said. “It feels rewarded by what it represents. All of the times that we had. There were traumatic times. I’m not trying to be overly dramatic. But nice little scars. Beautiful scars, 30 years ago during that particular time. So appropriate that Jimmy Johnson should be recognized in this manner by any definition you want to come up with. This is very appropriate, the time to nail it. It was always going to happen.”
Johnson was head coach of the Dallas Cowboys from 1989-1993 and in those five years the Cowboys won two Super Bowls and became one of the most iconic teams of the 1990s.
Johnson would leave amid friction with Jones over who was receiving credit for the Cowboys success. Johnson said in his book Swagger: Super Bowls, Brass Balls, and Footballs —A Memoir, that he could’ve shared the spotlight more.
After the announcement, Johnson spoke about that rocky time in their relationship.
“The communication was so good in the early days. The only problem we have is there towards the end, stopped talking a little bit, but I’ll tell you what, we’re talking now and we’re family now,” Johnson said.
Jones said the two began to have issues because they cared to much for what they were doing and each other. And they were too young to recognize the damage they were doing to their relationship.
“I couldn’t have had my frailties as to this issue if Jimmy didn’t mean so much to me,” Jones said. “I recognize completely sometimes the frailties that involved sometimes in human emotions. That shouldn’t, in any way, stand in place of the great, great working relationship, and great relationship we had. We were boys together. We had a chance to literally climb on a rocket. When I first got involved, I said Jimmy was worth five Heisman Trophy winners in my mind.
“Real good lesson, you can’t get that uptight unless you care enough. If you don’t care, then you’re left to go on to the next year. When you care then, it stays tight.”
Jones said Johnson had been inspirational as a leader for Cowboys when they won back-to-back Super Bowl titles in 1992 and ‘93 and that his place in Cowboys history was never in doubt.
“There’s never been any question [that] you need to be in the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor,” said Jones, “It was magical the time we had together and I want you to know something on December the 30th of , you’re going in the Dallas Cowboy Ring of Honor.”
Johnson spoke about his relationship with Jones.
“A lot of people have talked about the tension between us. When we went to the Cowboys we were both working around the clock and we talked every single day. We communicated back and forth and Jerry and I talked about this just not too long ago, we never disagreed on anything,” said Johnson.
Johnson will be the second Dallas Cowboy elected into the Ring of Honor this season after Demarcus Ware was inducted on Oct. 29th.
It will be the end of a process and negotiation that actually began when Johnson was inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame two years. Jones appeared to have buried the hatchet and said he was going to put Johnson in the Ring of Honor.
But as time has ticked off and Jones had yet to induct Johnson, the matter became a sticking point that Jones didn’t anticipate.
Jones said he was always going to honor Johnson. And he made up his mind he wanted to do it this year. It was just a matter of when.
“First of all, I really thought it was time and I wanted to do it this year,” Jones said. “It just it just felt right. Certainly there was some little awkwardness that was happening for not doing it that I guess I anticipated but I really didn’t anticipate it. So I wouldn’t have wanted that to linger any longer.”
Johnson never concerned himself with the process because he believed Jones when he told me he was going on at the Hall of Fame.
“One reason for this year is I’m alive,” Johnson joked. “He always told me I was going in.”
The process picked up steam when the two met before the Cowboys game against the Los Angeles Chargers in Los Angeles last month.
And then it was a matter of timing for the game and the announcement.
While it seemed awkward that the Cowboys announced the news at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, Carolina, it was more about the synergy with FOX Sports. Johnson is a member of NFL on FOX pre-game show and they wanted to make on the broadcast.
This was also the last time the Cowboys were going to appear on FOX this season.
And not coincidentally, the Lions game will televised by ESPN/ABC with Cowboys Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman in the both so he can be present for the festivities.
Aikman, who won two of his three Super Bowl titles under Johnson, has been campaigning for his former coach to be in the Ring of Honor even before he got in the Hall of Fame. Other Hall of Famers who played for Johnson with the Cowboys are Emmitt Smith, Charles Haley and Micahel Irvin.
“Jimmy enjoy is one of the most unique relationships of 30 something years with his team at Fox that there is and we didn’t have another Fox game there,” Jones said. “And then we have Aikman coming up on Saturday night on the 30th. So it was really something that they and us really wanted to have that celebration with Fox announcing it.”
Jones offered his thanks and appreciation to Panthers owner David Tepper for allowing the Cowboys to make the announcement in Carolina.