NFL

Cowboys' failings motivate owner

Pam Oliver goes one-on-one with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones
Pam Oliver goes one-on-one with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones
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Pam Oliver

Since joining the NFL on FOX team in 1995, Pam Oliver has established herself as one of the premier sports reporters on network television. She contributes feature stories and sideline reports for "FOX NFL Sunday" and reports from the NFL on FOX's top game.

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ALL ACCESS: A lot of networks do TV interviews, but have you ever wanted to know the juicy details that never make the air? You can tell a lot about who people really are when the cameras aren’t rolling. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at my Thursday interview with Dallas owner Jerry Jones.


The Cowboys have looked awful, played awful and disappointed the man who pays the bills. They should give the title of America’s Team to somebody else for safe keeping … someone whose star doesn’t shrink in the wash.

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Nothing about just one win in eight games jibes with Dallas owner Jerry Jones. He’s a fiercely proud, competitive man and guardian of all things Cowboys. He will not let disappointment in this season’s first half serve as an excuse for failure in the second.

“What disappointment usually results in, and if you want to call it embarrassing, if you want to call it being critiqued, that really should fire me up. And that really should build my resolve. All it does, is fire me up,” Jones said through a tightly clenched jaw.

Humiliation was one topic we covered. Jones, who wore a small diamond star on the lapel of his dark blue suit, exuded a steely resolve when we spoke for our interview to be featured on Fox NFL Sunday.

“I’ve been there before and gotten to be a part of a story of comeback when I was supposed to be destroying the franchise,” Jones said, alluding to the days after he bought the storied franchise in 1989, when he was greeted with great hostility by the Cowboys’ fans – and that was before a 1-15 finish that season.

“There was no honeymoon when I got involved with the Dallas Cowboys, none at all. I had some pretty tough criticism at that time. I got used to having that blind faith and that blind faith kept you going.”

Jones seemed to get teary a time or two as he spoke with passion and verve about when he first got into the pro game – then I remembered his eyes are normally somewhat glassy and that he squints for emphasis when he’s dead serious.

There was no shortage of squinting during our interview.

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For a while I wasn’t sure that I’d get this interview. Wanting to speak to the man at the center of this latest Dallas melodrama, FOX and I requested the interview at the start of the week. Yet as of Wednesday morning, we had no idea if it would even happen. It came, obviously, and Jones delivered something his team hasn't so far this season: a solid showing.

Jones, of course, has had a busy week, firing an uninspiring coach, naming an interim and promoting a new defensive coordinator to fix a very underwhelming unit that has given up an average of 40 points the last three games. No doubt Jones had also been running around making sure his lucrative marketing arm didn’t lose a leg.

“We need to win ballgames,'' Jones said as the talk turned to what this Dallas debacle means to his wallet. “When we fall short of expectations, then there’s certainly a very high price to pay financially.”

Our chat, to us Southerners, is called “visiting.” I came to the team’s facility and Jones served up answers that didn’t always fit the questions. But he was very good – and not in the slick Jerry-Jones-as-used-car-salesman kind of way, but very strong at pressing his points and reminding the world that in his words, he’s mighty “lucky” (to be king). I added the last part.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I can’t escape the Cowboys, especially at home. My husband is a sick Cowboys fan, always has been. He got chastised by his parents as a young boy for crying when Dallas lost a game and for throwing a fit when he wasn’t allowed to stay up to watch the second half of a Monday night game. The boyz in the ‘hood called him “Cowboy” and “Yip Yip” because he was often head-to-toe in Dallas team gear. I often amend Hootie and the Blowfish’s lyrics for the song “Only Wanna be with You,” with “I’m such a baby, yeah the Cowboys made me cry.” Totally behind his back, of course.

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This Cowboys team hears it right to its face – that it’s failed miserably, shriveled under the weight of high hopes. Jerry feels a responsibility for the lofty demands placed on his team, but success of the ’90s makes anything less, well, weak and sad in his opinion.

A spitfire full of optimism, Jerry Jones believes the hell he and the Cowboys are catching now will be overcome.

“That’s the game. It’s never as pretty as you think it is. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fallen on my tail. If I stayed down and not been optimistic, I wouldn’t have gotten the success I got.”

For Pam’s complete interview with Jerry Jones, watch the NFL on FOX Sunday, America’s No. 1 pregame show, at Noon ET / 9 a.m. PT

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