Silver and Gold
As expected, all things considered, the new issue of Sports Illustrated has a feature about the Dallas Cowboys' week that was; something to do with T.O.'s O.D. one week ago today, the trouncing of the Titans and how it hasn't been this crazy around this team since, oh, Deion Sanders made fornication his drug, Barry Switzer was toting guns on to planes and Michael Irvin was steppin' out and smokin' out. Guess you can't be America's Team if America ain't talking about you, which is the point of the S.I. piece in which Cowboys owner Jerry Jones puts on his best face (literally--he actually takes this one of our cold storage for special occasions) in order to celebrate being the sports media's fave obsession...just like it's 1995.
The story, written by Michael Silver, suggests that Jones not only expected this nuttiness when he signed Terrell Owens but also kind of craved it. Perhaps he figured it was better to be maligned than ignored; there's a scene in the story in which Jones is asked to sign a sweaty piece of clothing, but does so happily because, well, no one had asked him to sign anything in a long time. The team has lost its luster; so too had the owner, and the signing of a self-proclaimed "rock star" (Owens, who paints himself as just that thing) makes him look larger than life in Owens' reflection. You almost get the sense from the story that Jones would have been disappointed had Owens come to Dallas and not turned this thing into a spectacle; after all, you don't hire a time bomb without the expectation that at some point, it'll go off in your hands. As Jones tells Silver, "It's the Cowboy Factor. Things that happen here take on added visibility and interest. You might say, to some degree, it's always been that way."
A brief, but choice, excerpt from the story follows after the jump. --Robert Wilonsky
Remember in 1989 when Jones, on his first official day as the Cowboys' owner, incurred the wrath of football fans everywhere--and especially in Texas--by firing iconic coach Tom Landry and hiring the brash NFL neophyte Jimmy Johnson to replace him? To say that he and his organization have thrived on chaos and controversy since then would not be unfair; in that sense Jones is the managerial equivalent of the temperamental Owens, whose return to Philadelphia this Sunday to face the Eagles team that banished him will keep the hype machine on full tilt.
Think that battle might generate a bit of interest? After joining the Eagles in 2004, T.O. helped Philly reach its first Super Bowl in more than two decades and, six weeks after suffering a broken ankle, played brilliantly in defeat in that game. But his nasty contract dispute and public feud with quarterback Donovan McNabb last year undid all of the brotherly love that Philly had to offer. Now the Cowboys, coming off their highest-scoring game in six years, are rolling. "If we can get out of our own way, we have a chance to beat anybody," quarterback Drew Bledsoe said after Sunday's victory. "We'll find out next week, because Philly is good."
Jones certainly won't be complaining about the pregame buildup. Though the Cowboys' owner obviously would be deeply concerned about any employee's sudden hospitalization and potentially fragile emotional and mental state, he thoroughly enjoys the kind of breathless, comprehensive attention his team and its lightning-rod wideout got last week. As Jones eagerly admitted shortly after his arrival at the stadium on Sunday morning, he both expected and welcomed such spectacles when he signed T.O. to a three-year, $25 million contract last March. "Apart from the very sensitive personal health issues, I compare this incident to some earlier experiences that came during some very successful times," Jones said, seated on a folding chair in a small storage space next to the Cowboys' locker room. "The times when we've had bigger-than-life personalities, even when the criticism surrounding them was not all positive, were largely successful. We won three world championships not because of that, but inclusive of that. So when it comes to inordinate interest with inordinate situations and inordinate personalities, those have been positive experiences for me and for our fans. And I can't get that out of my mind."