Originally posted on Fox Sports Southwest  |  Last updated 10/19/11
A middle-aged white dude goes a little too all in on his postgame handshake duty with another middle-aged white dude, and we dissect every second. Add an overzealous back slap followed by an awkward run and chest bumping, and we want punishment because, well, this kind of machismo silliness has no business in the National Football League. Meanwhile we flat-out ignore the far more insidious and dangerous word fight that went down in Foxborough later that same day. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones embarrassed his first-year coach Jason Garrett on Sunday. And we simply giggled at the octogenarian who did the verbal equivalent of 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh except on his own guy. "This game was decided right down there at the end, and I am so proud of these players, the way they competed tonight," Jones said after his team lost another last-second game to New England. "We rolled the dice at the end and went conservative rather than try to get some points and it bit us." You may hear what Jones said 50 times and not understand the gravity of what he did, why it is a big deal and why this has potential to doom whatever the Cowboys may be building. Fortunately, for you, I do. Excuse me, stewardess I speak Jerry. Translation: I am proud of my players. You, Jason Garrett? Not so much. Your sorry conservative play calling in the final minutes cost us moreso than, say, a shoddily constructed offensive line or our three ineffectual running backs, or the fact that we no longer trust our quarterback with the winning portion of the game. What Jones did is what he always does: sweep his coaches' legs in a moment of anger and frustration. And just like that, in a couple of sentences, the man I call The Redheaded Genius was shoved closer to Coach Cupcake and Coach Campo and Chan Gailey, a long line of coaches turned ineffectual by a Jerry-created perception of them as only marginally in-charge entities who can be overturned at the whim of the owner, president and GM. Jones has every right to do so, I guess. It is his team. He pays for everything from socks to jocks. He is still wrong, not because what he said is not nice or PC or even right. It is wrong because it is not what is best for his football team. Leading the players to believe the only or biggest reason they lost to the Patriots was play calling is not just wrong, it's dangerous. It lets them off the hook for the problems; the GM, too. Even Jones' run at an apology Tuesday felt like that whole apology thing men do when what they very much mean leads to a hassle they do not want. It is the "I'm sorry saying this blew up in my face" apology, which is very different than the "I am sorry I did this" apology or the very rare "I was wrong" apology. "I would say that probably if I had that to do over again, I wouldn't comment, period," he told a Dallas radio station Tuesday. "I wouldn't even answer a question about it. I was asked the questions and you can always say, 'No comment.' But I did, and I was real clear that this is a flip of the coin. That's what Jason is frankly paid to do, is make those decisions, and there's no one that I'd rather have (making) the decisions regarding our football team right now on an offensive play call." That is not exactly true. Postgame statements like that one suggest, very strongly, that he would rather be making the decisions, and the Cowboys would be better off if he did. The apology is not an acknowledgement that JG made the right call to run three times with three minutes left in the game and leading by three, or to reign in his quarterback a couple of weeks after his latest implosion. It's just an acknowledgement that Jones probably should not have told all of America that he believes his coach failed. This really is not that much different than Jerry saying 500 coaches could replace The Jimster, and why none of the six coaches since Jimmy Johnson has had much luck. It does not matter that what Jerry said about Garrett is right. It was. It is that it was said aloud. It devalues the coach, which unfortunately is standard operating procedure in Dallas. There is no Roger Goodell punishment for this crime, no backlash, just a chuckle among his national media buddies about Jerry being Jerry. I like Jerry Jones, too. Good dude, good owner, obsessed with trying to win another championship. And I think he likes Garrett. It was less than a year ago that he spun a platitude-filled press conference about letting Garrett be his own man. Jones just can't help himself. And herein lies the problem with the Cowboys, or at least one of the most consistently persistent ones. The loudest voice is that of the owner , and it is heard way too much, and it is not working. You probably will say: "What does this have to do with winning championships?" Evvverything, as Mavericks owner Mark Cuban learned. He used to have this problem, then his coach Rick Carlisle asked him to zip and shut, politely, of course. Cuban did because he decided winning was more important than talking. He learned, and he said far less negative things about his team or coaches than Jerry ever has. His ire mostly went toward officials, David Stern and opposing players. Not Jerry. He goes after his own usually coaches, occasionally players and almost never to good end. Very few players and teams have been disemboweled by outside noise. Terrell Owens did far more damage to Donovan McNabb than Rush Limbaugh ever did. The most insidious criticism is almost always sly and from within. Which is why you so rarely see it, and certainly not in good organizations. Did you see the Rooney family undermining Mike Tomlin as he grew into the job? The thing is Garrett made a decision Sunday based on what he had seen from Tony Romo, no longer trusting him to win games after epic meltdowns against the Jets and Lions. Jones immediately made it clear that his coach was wrong, in humiliating back-slappy fashion. Only unlike Lions coach Jim Schwartz, Garrett has no recourse. He cannot chase Jones down, or scream, or do the whole 'hold me back' routine. He can only hope Jerry learns his conduct is unbecoming of a real NFL franchise.
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