After a decades-long wait, legendary coach Jimmy Johnson was formally enshrined in the Dallas Cowboys’ prestigious Ring of Honor on Saturday night. The ceremony capped years of tension between Johnson and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who shared an emotional embrace as they finally put the past behind them.
From Championships to Acrimony
Johnson and Jones formed one of football’s most successful and volatile partnerships in the late 80s and early 90s. Together, they rebuilt the Cowboys from the ashes and won back-to-back Super Bowls in 1992 and 1993 with a slew of stars Johnson brought to Dallas.
But ego clashes led to a bitter breakup in 1994, with Jones reportedly feeling Johnson took too much credit for the team’s success. Though they shared a stage during Johnson’s Pro Football Hall of Fame induction in 2020, the bad blood persisted for decades.
Key Moments in Johnson’s Cowboys Tenure
|1-15 record in first season as head coach
|Worst-to-first turnaround, playoff berth
|Wins first Super Bowl as head coach
|Becomes first coach to win back-to-back Super Bowls
|Resigns after reported clashes with Jones
Ceremony Cements Johnson’s Cowboys Legacy
On Saturday night, Jones finally gave Johnson his due, inducting him into the vaunted Ring at halftime of Dallas’ game against Detroit.
“I’m so proud that I had Jimmy Johnson with me for five years,” Jones told the cheering crowd. “We were able to win two Super Bowls in that short period of time. He is the only coach that was able to do that.”
In an emotional speech, Johnson credited the fans, players, and Jones himself for the successes of his era. “How ’bout them Cowboys!” Johnson bellowed, reprising his iconic line. The 75-year-old coach got choked up at times, calling the moment “pretty special.”
The reconciliation was a long-time coming after years of Jones resisting calls to honor Johnson. Earlier overtures toward reconciliation went nowhere. The Ring of Honor induction comes 30 years after their professional breakup and marks a turning point in their turbulent history.
Johnson and Jones: From College Teammates to NFL Adversaries
- Played together on Arkansas’ 1964 national championship team
- Jones hired Johnson for Cowboys in 1989
- Won two Super Bowls together in five seasons
- Infighting led to Johnson’s departure in 1994
- Endured years of tension and credit disputes
By all accounts, Jones’ relationship with Johnson still isn’t exactly warm and fuzzy. But the induction clears the way for them to continue mending fences.
Don’t expect Jones to cede any credit for Dallas’ glorious early 90s teams. But he can now acknowledge Johnson’s role without reservation. They will likely never be close again but can coexist more amiably at team events and in interviews about the era.
For Cowboys fans, Johnson joining the Ring of Honor provides a measure of long-awaited closure. Seeing the two central figures of the team’s dynasty together again, without rancor, allows everyone to celebrate that special time in franchise history.
Johnson now takes his place alongside other Cowboys coaching luminaries like Tom Landry and Bill Parcells. Though his Dallas tenure was short, his spectacular success earned him a spot among the team legends. Whatever comes next for Jones and Johnson, the coach’s Ring induction secures his lasting legacy with one of football’s signature franchises.
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