Jerry Jones' airplane was seen parked at an airport that reportedly had Bill Parcells walking through the same locale. This transpired with some two weeks left in the season. A great many Dallas Cowboys fans took a sharp breath of air in, Could it be true? Would Jerry Jones actually hire a coach who wasn't a mere hand puppet to him? They had been teased like this in the past. Big name coaches being secretly paraded through our fair town or airports, getting the fans all excited, driving up season ticket sales prematurely all to only come crashing about our heads and shoulders and to once again make us the laughing stocks amongst the NFL fans.
Then there was the sentence that was issued the day following the Cowboys having their season ended by the Washington Redskins. A game in which neither team seemed willing to win. A game marred by turnovers and sloppy play. A game that brought an end to the Cowboys' reign over the Washington fans. There is a change in philosophy within the Cowboy organization. Jerry Jones uttered that brief sentence, the man many fans hold responsible for the reason why the Dallas Cowboys only won three Super Bowls in the 90's, instead of an unprecedented four in a row. When he made a simple statement in a bar to several reporters, "I could have gotten any one of 500 head coaches to have won these last two Super Bowls," it was quickly followed by Jimmy Johnson, the man that replaced a legend in Tom Landry, packing his bags and heading back to his yacht in Miami.
Many believe that Jerry was in dire need for some kinda hook to be able to get his floundering season ticket sales up. Emmitt Smith had finally broken the all time rushing record set by Hall of Fame player Walter Payton. It appeared that Emmitt would not be returning in the 2003 football campaign for the Cowboys.
It has often been a preconceived notion that Jerry Jones cannot stand to be left out of the spotlight. That he will often do things and make announcements to simply upstage the rest of the NFL. He has fired coaches the week leading up to the Super Bowl. He has also hired coaches the week before or immediately after the biggest game day of the year.
With the sentence, "A change in philosophy," he drove the Cowboy faithful wild. Is it possible that he will actually stay in his suite like most owners? Will he give a head coach the power to hire and fire his own staff? What is more to be able to draft, acquire through free agency, or cut any players that he wants? Without them being able to go through Jerry?
We had all heard the rumors churning that Jerry Jones and Bill Parcells were working on an agreement. But many, much like myself, would not allow ourselves to sucked in by these rumors. We had been hurt too many times before, only to have our dreams of returned status and grandeur dashed upon the rocks of the likes of Barry Switzer, Chan Gailey, and Dave Campo.
Then December 30th it was announced that the Cowboys had a new conference scheduled for 4 pm CST.
"What?" was the cry of the local diehard fans. "Surely, Jerry hasn't had time to interview anyone truly qualified as of yet."
Then the trickle of "leaked" information began. Jerry and Bill had talked on at least two different occasions. That Jerry had actually spoken to at least one other known NFL coach, and that he had actually made an offer to Bill Parcells for an estimated four years and 17 million dollars.
The message boards exploded as opinion after opinion was launched proclaiming this the second greatest action of Jerry since the Herschel Walker trade. * Others said that the sources could not be confirmed and that we were all goobers for getting our hopes up.
Then Thursday January 2, 2003, arrived and word also arrived that Bill Parcells had turned in his notice with ESPN that he would not be able to carry on his role of football analyst for them. As the hours ticked away, it drew closer to time for Jerry Jones to make the announcement of who the 6th coach in the history of the Dallas Cowboys would be. Fear welled up in many that Bill would simply walk away much as he had done the prior year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"I would like to introduce the new head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, Bill Percells." With that simple sentence, a collective sigh was let loose by a great number of Cowboy fans across the world.
With that simple sentence, Jerry Jones instantly won over seventy-five percent of the fans that were getting ready to tar and feather him. It put to rest all of those naysayers who said that he would never allow a true coach to have any real power. He has also gone on the record as admitting that he has made mistakes. Another thing that the faithful swore would never happen.
Will the Big Tuna stay the entire 4 years? Probably not. Will he return the Cowboys to the status that they have known? Only time itself will tell. How did he get the nickname the Big Tuna? Well, pull up a chair; I have a small tale to tell.
"...But this is a special case. We are welcoming The Big Tuna, a.k.a., new Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells. As explained in our sports section in December, Mr. Parcells' nickname is a cultural reference. In 1980, when he was a New England Patriots assistant coach, some players were dogging it. When they responded poorly to him, he shouted, "Who do you think I am, Charlie the Tuna?" Charlie, at the time, was the TV commercial tuna who couldn't quite qualify for canning at Star-Kist. "Sorry, Charlie," the ads said.
"No sports story is ever simple. It couldn't have just been that the delivery room doctor told Mrs. Parcells, 'You've got a big un - 'bout the size of a good bluefin.'"As told by Larry Powell on Jan 8 2003 in his online column for the Dallas Morning News
One thing can be said, the Cowboys' next few seasons, as well as their off seasons, should be rather interesting. Stay turned for further Letters from the Edge of Sports!!!
*The Herschel Walker Trade sent the Hiesman Trophy winning running back to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange of draft picks and players. Through careful manipulation of this draft picks and players being traded to various teams, the Cowboys were able to gain a great number of quality players that enabled them to become one of the premier teams in the early 1990s.
Direct quotes of Jerry Jones were taken from the Dallas Morning News.