Reporting Mike Fisher
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IRVING (105.3 THE FAN) -- Jerry Jones’ Dallas Cowboys are, in the way he peddles his product, “The Cheese That Goes Crunch.’’
For the 24th consecutive year, a hot subject at Valley Ranch is the seeming discord between something Jerry says and something someone else in power (in this case, coach Jason Garrett) says. The subject: Quarterback Tony Romo’s supposed “Peyton Manning/Roger Staubach-like’’ involvement in the offense.
Jerry says he is expecting “Peyton Manning-type time on the job’’ for Romo. And in another interview says, “What we want to use more than we ever have, is the kind of thing that Staubach contributed on the field.”
Meanwhile, Jason says: “It’s similar to every quarterback situation in the league. I have been a quarterback in this league. I have been around those dynamics. I have been quarterback coach. I have been the offensive coordinator. In every organization you are trying to get that rapport with the quarterback and the offensive coordinator. … He has been our quarterback for six years now. So his voice matters to us. It has mattered for a long time.”
So is there a chasm between owner and coach? A truth vs. a lie? An infrastructure crack that will prevent Dallas from lifting itself from 8-8?
No more than there is a chasm between the marketing department that sells the Cheetos and the engineers who manufacture them.
Cheetos aren’t really “cheese,’’ you know. Nor do they actually “crunch.’’ They were probably supposed to be yellow (like cheese) instead of orange. Surely they weren’t supposed to leave residue on your fingers. They are fattening and unhealthy.
But none of that matters when the cartoon cheetah dons his sunglasses and tells you Cheetos are “The Cheese That Goes Crunch.’’
Jerry Jones is that cartoon cheetah. Moreover, Jerry Jones is arguably the greatest salesman in the world. By age 21, he’d sold $1 million of life insurance in a year while also co-captaining his national championship Arkansas football team – oh, and he convinced Miss Arkansas to marry him.
Peddling life insurance is sales.
Captaining a football team is sales.
Successfully wooing a Miss America finalist to the chapel is sales.
Jones recently signed Romo to a monster contract, and so when talking about Romo, he sells the player, justifies the new $108-million contract, and invites us to share in The American Dream of “America’s Team.’’
So Jerry is a liar? No. Jerry is Burt Lancaster in “The Rainmaker,’’ Jerry is Robert Preston in “The Music Man,’’ Jerry is Jon Hamm in “Mad Men.’’ They want you to join them in The Ecstasy of Faith! It’s the passion of the sale that drives Jerry Jones to say “Super Bowl or Bust’’ when there never is going to really be a “bust.’’ It’s the passion of the sale that drives Don Draper to convince us that cigarettes are “cool,’’ conveniently ignoring his knowledge that they are also deadly.
Hundreds of times, I’ve watched Jones do what he calls (in his Little Rock twang) “a-geein’-and-a-hawin’’; just “visitin’’’ with individuals or small groups that come away fully charmed. Dozens of times I’ve watched Jones deliver speeches before huge crowds. In that setting, he’s still “a-geein’-and-a-hawin’’ but his devotion and passion for the Cowboys cause becomes wildly inflated. He can literally drive himself to tears when discussing his “product.’’
“Nobody in the NFL wants to win more,’’ Cowboys Hall-of-Fame legend Troy Aikman tells me, “than Jerry. Nobody devotes more resources to doing so than Jerry, either. Nobody.’’
Jones’ position on Romo’s Cowboys is an exaggeration. But Jerry Jones’ passion for Your Cowboys is not a lie.
Romance is sales. Writing is sales. Jerry Jones’ job (at least in part) is sales. It’s the link between everything from Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream’’ to a deodorant promising to be “new and improved’’ to Jerry Jones rolling with the “America’s Team’’ idea — because if enough of us keep thinking it, it remains the truth.
Because all “America’s Team’’ really is, you know, is an idea.
Who to believe at Valley Ranch when it comes to what the quarterback’s role will be?
Believe the head coach, who is immersed in that issue every day. Garrett is downplaying Romo’s involvement in order to protect the QB, with whom he is close. (Also believe this about the “Monday and Tuesday game-planning issue’’): I know for a fact that last year, Romo spent plenty of Tuesday nights in the Valley Ranch office of QB coach Wade Wilson. I also witnessed personally Romo and Garrett watching tape together … and they couldn’t wait until Monday or Tuesday to do it. They did it on Sunday nights. On the plane rides home from road games.
This is why Romo pal Jason Witten laughs off the idea of the QB being “more involved.’’ This is why Jerry’s son Stephen, the Cowboys VP, giggles when he refers to the QB as “Coach Romo.’’
So believe Witten. Believe Stephen. Believe me.
And believe the head coach as opposed to the incredibly busy owner, who wears so many different hats that it sometimes makes it difficult for the Cowboys consumer to separate “Jerry the Football Guy’’ from “Jerry The Owner’’ from “Jerry The Papa John’s Pizza Dancer.’’
Jerry is in the showroom, selling you the used car and telling you how sexy you look behind the wheel. (“I think you should buy some leather driving gloves, too!’’)
Jason is in the garage, making sure you understand that the used car comes with no warranty and has an oil leak. (“I believe that there is a process by which I can fix that oil leak!’’)
Would the Cowboys operate more smoothly if there was a singular voice on matters such as Romo’s involvement? Maybe. Or maybe they would just be perceived to be operating more smoothly. But Cowboys consumers (frustrated fans or whiny media) cannot change any of that. Therefore, Cowboys consumers would be wise to listen to the different voices with a more trained ear.
The buying public is smart enough to know that Chester Cheetah isn’t real. Smart enough to know that Cheetos aren’t cheese. Smart enough to know that they don’t actually crunch. No reason, then, why we can’t be smart enough to recognize the difference between Jerry’s “Ecstasy of Faith’’ and the real work that must be done by the Cowboys to merit that faith.
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