CANTON, Ohio—If there was still a semblance of a crack in the relationship between Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson, it’s been patched.
Johnson, of course, coached the Dallas Cowboys to back-to-back Lombardi Trophies in 1992-93 but was fired by Jones the following offseason. Although the two were college teammates at Arkansas, they just couldn’t get along.
That was long ago. Johnson moved on in life. So did Jones. But their paths crossed once again Saturday night in Canton, where Jones was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2017. Johnson shared the stage with Jones as the presenter for pass rusher Jason Taylor, whom Johnson drafted at the Miami Dolphins.
When Jones gave his acceptance speech, he didn’t waste any time paying homage to the contribution Johnson made to that bust he now has in Canton, taking the audience back to 1989 when he purchased the Cowboys.
“I wanted someone I knew, I wanted someone I knew well, I wanted someone who I knew could get it done to be our coach,” Jones said. “I wanted Jimmy Johnson. I said he’d be worth five first-round draft choices or five Heisman Trophy draft picks. I should have been laughed out of town when I said it. It was my first experience as an owner and a general manager. It was a difficult and very unpopular decision.”
Then Jones looked across the stage at Johnson.
“Jimmy, it was a great decision,” he said. “You were a great teammate. You were a great partner, the contrary to popular belief. We worked so well together for five years and restored the Cowboys’ credibility with our fans. We were back-to-back, we were driven, we had thick skin. We took all the criticism they could dish out. I thank you.”
Even Johnson applauded.
All that’s left now is for Jones to induct Johnson in the Ring of Honor – and maybe one day join Johnson on the stage again for his own gold jacket.