This is really long, but I am sending this to JJ as soon as I get a legit address; my real contact information is already on the letter (I blanked out the other website below)...I expect it to be in the mail tomorrow; I gotta to what I can even if it means nothing:
Dear Mr Jones:
First, may I call your Jerry? I am a long-time Dallas Cowboys fan. When I was young, I was a Buffalo Bills fan living in Syracuse, NY. Being an impressionable young person, I followed the local Bills team as they had who I considered to be the best player in the game, O.J. Simpson.
My family moved to northeastern Pennsylvania when I was 9 and that’s when I saw Roger Staubach complete one of his soon to be legendary scrambling, comeback wins. I changed teams at that point and have been a staunch supporter of the Cowboys since then (early 1970’s).
Jerry, I have lived through the ups and downs of the franchise, like many of the fans of this team and loved the team while they and the Steelers were the best franchises in the late 70’s and early 80’s. I was thrilled to see the team build a winner in the early 90’s and paired with the 49ers as the best teams and look like a dynasty was in place for the foreseeable future. But, after their last Super Bowl win, this team and franchise has become stale and predictable.
I am writing this to implore you to return this team to the glory that I felt in the 70’s, 80’s and early- to mid-90’s. You may not want to hear any of this, but I will give you my suggestions as a 40+ year fan. I feel entitled to request this based on my support for this team for 4 decades (and counting). This is a long letter, but it is my hope that one of your people will not crumble this and toss it aside. It is my hope that you will take this seriously that while I do not speak for all Dallas Cowboy fans, you would probably be surprised how many would have more intense versions of this letter to send to you.
You are a remarkable salesman and marketer. You have maintained the Cowboys as the top brand in professional sports. But, despite the financial success that you enjoy, the fans that support you need to experience a chance to win again. It has been 18 years (roughly) since this team has legitimately competed for a title.
I wish to God that I could come to the stadium to see my beloved Cowboys play a game there. I cannot afford to fly the 1,500 miles, get a hotel, pay for a ticket and then all of the incidentals that go with it. Like many people, I do not have a bank account that will allow me to utilize my expendable capitol on anything but bills and general living expenses. So, I sit on my couch, hoping that “THIS IS THE YEAR.”
Here is what I suggest.
I believe that you need to consider building on your strengths and where you may not be as strong, bring in someone that HAS that strength. I am focusing on the following (not in any particular order):
1) Wearing too many hats
2) Media perception of you and the organization
3) Fan perception of you and the organization
4) Front Office Decisions
5) Home Field Advantage
6) The NFL Draft/Player Personnel
7) Make the tough decisions
WEARING TOO MANY HATS
Of course, I am referring to you having ALL of the titles of Owner, President, General Manager, and until recently, Director of Player Personnel. Owner, President – absolutely! You own the team and are the man in charge, as it should be. But, the General Manager placard on your wall needs to be handed to someone else. I am not talking about someone that shares your last name either.
How to fix things: this can only get better by bringing in someone as a General Manager that has NFL football experience. With all apologies, I am not talking about you owning an NFL team for 25+ years. I am talking about someone who lives, breaths and dies the sport of running an NFL franchise, someone with in-game knowledge of how things actually work. I cannot begin to suggest that I know who the right person for this job is. But to me, someone like Roger Staubach is a great place to start. Perhaps not as the GM, although I think based on his knowledge of the game, his familiarity with the team, and his terrific business acumen, he may fit the bill. If nothing else, make the decision to turn this franchise over to someone. Once you make that decision, then put together a team of people to help find that person.
Put a Project Team together to find your person and include people like Staubach, Troy Aikman, Jimmy Johnson, Bill Polian, et al. The first three on the list obviously have bled for this franchise and would make for terrific partners along with you and your family to find the right person for the job. But, you MUST abide by the decision of the project team. It would do more damage than good to put something like that together only to override it and say that you are going to continue to ride the storm as the GM or that you are putting one of your family members in there.
The media perception of you is horrid, and in my opinion, rightfully so. Jerry, this has to be something that you have noticed. It appears that, at least what I read and view, that the media will not ask you the tough questions. I can only surmise that they are afraid that you will not sit in an interview with them again or that you have some way of affecting their livelihood? You are a money-making machine for the franchise but you are also someone that provides that quote to the media that allows them to stay employed (in a sense). It is my impression that you like being in front of a microphone. That is fine and I will not dispute that.
How to fix things: If you want to change the perception of the media and fans, then don’t be afraid to take a hit to your ego and let someone else come in to run the team. I can imagine the press conference where you announce the project team that will hire a General Manager. The first few questions may be tough, but I can see everyone in the room as they hear the responses nodding their heads in agreement that this is the right thing to do. Again, I can see the first few articles after that interview saying something like “it is about time” or “Jerry Jones can’t get it done so he is hiring someone else”. SO WHAT? You owe these knuckleheads absolutely ZERO. Take the hit to your pride and get the ball rolling. Any articles that come later with your brain-trust selecting the person can only be seen as a positive move.
You can look like the HERO that is saving the franchise. And, make no mistakes, this franchise needs saving from a competitive standpoint. Thinking that this is a “show” and “entertainment” is disingenuous and is a horrible statement to make (i.e.: following the melt-down against Green Bay for example). The football world needs better than a show. The Dallas Cowboy football team deserves better. The fan-base deserves better. I deserve better after 40+ years of following this team.
You have noticed that your face gets booed during a game. I notice this during a game that I am watching in my living room, so I can’t imagine how much it happens in the stadium when the national TV cameras are not running.
How to fix things: If you want to change the fan perception of you, then put together the search team to find a football mind to run the football operations as mentioned above. Once the person is in place, YOU will be heralded as the champion of the franchise once again instead of the person that is holding it hostage. I participate in a number of web sites/discussion forums including ******* and Prosportsdaily.com to name a few. If you want to see fan perception, then go in either of these locations. But, be forewarned, it is not pretty when it comes to you.
I would suggest that you go in with a thick skin and with the idea of turning the perception around. You can do this!!!! The fans are not just some money-making group of millions of people. We have been proud of this organization until recently. In my case, I live in the middle of Eagles, Giants, and Steelers territory. After EVERY game that the Cowboys lose, I have a parade of people at my desk at work the next morning. Imagine the line that I saw after the Green Bay debacle. This has to stop.
FRONT OFFICE DECISIONS
This all starts and ends with a new General Manager that has football knowledge and experience. The decisions that have been made at head coach (for example) reek of you putting your stamp on the franchise. But, you have not been right about the head coach since Bill Parcells and before that, Jimmy Johnson. They both took different tact’s to building success, but they both had something going for them, free reign and football knowledge. It is not my impression that any other head coach had any autonomy of any kind.
How to fix things: Again, Jerry, get the Project Team to select the General Manager and then get out of the way. Let the new GM pick a new head coach who will have some autonomy over running the football team. Let the GM work with his newly hired HC to get the right people in place on the field. The GM & HC positions would be the first steps in bringing the team back to perennial contention. Of course, there are player decisions that need to come as well (I will cover that later). But, the cap situation is horrible right now and you keep robbing Peter to pay Paul. The franchise has to bite the bullet somewhere to get the cap back in order. The new GM MUST have free reign and accountability in this area.
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE
Again, Jerry, I have no idea what it is like to experience a game in the palace that you have built. But, it sickens me to hear SO MANY fans of opposing team during our home games. There were as many loud cheers for the Packers during that game as there were for Dallas. You MUST take that personally!
How to fix things: I don’t buy into the model of copying other teams on the field, but one model that I truly believe is how loud it gets in the Seahawk games. I submit that you try to do something to get the fans of the Dallas Cowboys more involved. I love seeing the decibel levels being shown. I can imagine that if I was at a home game and on the jumbotron saw the decibel meter being pinned to obnoxious levels, then I would scream louder. If I ran the team, I would be buying full page ads to get the fans to NOT sell their tickets to fans of other teams. I would encourage them to come to the game ready to yell.
I assume that you have been in the owner’s box during an Eagles game? I have been in the stadium during and Eagles-Cowboys game in Philadelphia. I come all decked out in my Cowboys gear KNOWING that I will receive abuse from their fans. I bring a change of clothes in the car (seriously). Eagles fans want you to leave and never come back unless you are a fan of the Eagles. In Arlington, everything I hear from fans on web sites or in person is that most Cowboys fans are there to get noticed and not get loud. That is insulting to me. The team MUST get home field advantage back and the fan-base has to be energized and engaged to do that. That is on you to make that important. It appears to me that you don’t care since you are getting paid either way. That is insulting to me, but as a fan, that is my perception.
NFL DRAFT/PLAYER PERSONNEL
You have made a few nice selections in the draft of late, but it seems like those are more of an exception than the rule. Also, the decisions on players and extending their contracts are also something that reeks of inefficiency. There is a much better way to do this, but it comes at a price.
How to fix things: First, let the new GM take charge of ALL of this. Keep in mind, Jerry, that this person was hired based on their football knowledge and experience, the things that you lack. You should have no veto power, you should have no say in the player personnel decision, especially with the draft. You must have a scouting team in place to help with going after the right players both in the draft and free agency. But, from my chair, it seems like these same people are in place for decades, time for some new blood. Also, the new GM would supplant you or your son Stephen from making these decisions.
The players coming out of college are a different breed than they were 20 years ago, but it appears that you still have the same mentality of 20 years ago when selecting players (and coaches for that matter, but I am not going to go into the kiffin decision today). There should be several different views to consider with all player decisions. I would start by putting together spreadsheets that list all of the peripherals of each player. Then, you look at the film and talk with the scouts who, hopefully, have actually seen the players that you are considering play. Then, put a specific weight on each of the elements involved. The final decision TO BE MADE BY THE GM would be based on these factors. Again, no veto power should be employed in any decision.
I would be more than thrilled to put together such a spreadsheet based on all of the available information, I do this now just for fun, but if I thought it could help “our” team improve, then consider me a resource. But, whatever methods are being utilized currently, aren’t enough or they are being overridden.
MAKING THE TOUGH DECISIONS
This is the catch-all department. Jerry, it is time to hire the GM that I have mentioned a lot. Then, allow that GM to make the tough decisions on players. There has to be a mindset for the future and not just extending aging players who have produced in the past. I like the idea of “taking care of your own”, but it this is truly treated like a business, then extending players past their prime, for the most part, is a mistake.
Once someone hits a certain age at a certain position, it is time to move on. Some positions last longer than others of course, but that has to be the game plan. Also, we are holding on to pet projects WAY too long like Jason Garrett. I have always liked him and feel that there is a role in the organization for him (not sure what). But, he was hired by you as the Head Coach of the Dallas Cowboys with not one minute of head coaching experience at any level. That is not acceptable for America’s Team and his failures in game management and generally improvement of the team have set this team back based on his lack of experience.
How to fix things: I love Demarcus Ware and I fully expect to see him in the Ring of Honor and Hall of Fame someday. But, it is time to either drastically reduce his salary (ala: Doug Free) or allow him to move on. Jason Hatcher? Move on from him if he wants too much money this off season. Miles Austin must be a cap casualty as soon as it is best for the team to cut him (not sure if better before or after June 1st). It is time to bite the bullet. Take the enormous cap hit that it will take to make this team better in the long haul. I would expect that the new GM has this decision on Tony in a few years, but I love him as the QB of our team.
The Head Coach should be decided upon by the GM and no one else. In theory, the GM should only come to you to get a budget, in my opinion, and then you stay away from the decision. Also, for the love of God, please get someone on the medical staff to keep this team healthy. I believe that there are at least 12 hamstring issues on the team this year and that just smells like conditioning to me. The health of the team has cost it success in the last two seasons and something has to give (sorry, had to add my two cents in there).
This is long enough, and I assume that you must receive letters like this all of the time. But, perhaps people are not sending them because them think others are doing so. I love the Dallas Cowboys and expect that I will be a fanatic of them until the day I die. But, there is one thing that I have stopped doing. I will not purchase another item that has the Dallas Cowboys logo on it until I see some type of changes. Right now, it is my belief and that of likely millions of fans that you don’t care about the success of the team, you only care about how much money is coming in to fill your coffers.
I can’t believe in my heart that you don’t care about winning. But, prove it to me Jerry. Prove to me that you will stop at nothing to win. Show me that you are willing to let go and bring in a true football mind that will be given the opportunity to bring this team back to the Promised Land. I have zero faith right now that you or your son has the ability to bring a winner to Dallas. Prove me wrong.