ARLINGTON, Texas – Jerry Jones spoke Tuesday, and we got answers, a lot of the answers you guys have been looking for.
Well, almost all the answers. Except one. And you can guess which one that might deal with. Yep, Terrell Owens, though Jerry kind of cryptically answered that one, too. Sort of.
The occasion this Silent Off-Season was out here at the Preview Center, just west of the new stadium construction, to announce George Strait and Reba McEntire officially christening the $1.1 billion monstrosity with a concert on June 6.
Jerry knew the questions were coming, more football questions than those about “Troubadour” or that the Texas native has 67 million records, ranking third behind only the Beatles and Elvis. And for the most part he was forthright.
He ended speculation about who would replace Brian Stewart as defensive coordinator.
“Wade,” Jones said. “He’ll do it himself. No new defensive coordinator. He’s the head coach, defensive coordinator.”
There had been questions about if Anthony Spencer will be disciplined for his recent incident, resulting in an arrest in Indianapolis.
“Yes,” Jones said.
He was asked about Dan Reeves, if that was a one-shot deal or if he’s still searching for someone to fill that particular role, sort of an on-site advisor to Wade Phillips.
“No, he was an opportunity because (Phillips) had such confidence. Wade had such a good relationship with him, and this was a Wade Phillips’ relationship, and he was the one who recommended it. He was the one who brought it to the table and he was the one who wanted it,” the Cowboys owner said. “And we wanted him to be a sounding board for Wade throughout the team – an advisor. Never, never did Dan express any desire to make decisions.”
So what happened, Jerry knowing full well everyone else knew Reeves had moved into an office in the coaching wing of The Ranch one day and was gone the next?
“I don’t think we were ever really on the same page,” said Jones about what he was expecting out of Reeves. “That’s not a negative. I just don’t think we were ever on the page. I think a lot of him and really respect him but it doesn’t surprise me. What happened was frankly the process kind of evolved and we visited and it became apparent to me we just weren’t on the same page.”
Jones would also say he was unsure if the naming rights to the new stadium would be negotiated before the Cowboys actually move into the structure for the start of the 2009 season and that he still is talking with just one entity about the possibility. He would say the club is working on scheduling other concerts, too, before the preseason begins.
Now “chemistry” seemed to strike a raw nerve with Jones, and when asked if he was worried about the reported “chemistry” problem on the team, Jones said, adamantly I might add, “Not at all. Not at all. Not-at-all. I’m just not. They are a figment of the result – you didn’t hear about those kinds of things when we were winning. You hear about those kinds of things when you’re losing. So I’m just not. And if you all knew more about some of the things you’re writing about, you wouldn’t be as concerned.”
And when told his fans are not happy, and they don’t seem to have anything to be optimistic about, not as optimistic as he seemed, well, Jones had an answer for that one, too.
“I make comparisons,” Jones said. “I look at other sports, I look at other teams, I look at the fact there was one team (in the NFL) that’s satisfied today, one, in my mind, and that’s the Pittsburgh Steelers. The other one that ought to be the next most satisfied won nine games and lost seven and played well in the playoffs. (The Cardinals) had a tough time in their last five games and yet they were almost world champions.
“So I would say to the fans that are (frustrated), I’m as disappointed, and resolved as you could ever imagine to do the best job of putting a team on the field. Winning will make people happy . . . winning will make ’em happy. I don’t know that there’s a player right now who could take the disappointment away from the equation. The only thing that’s going to take the disappointment away is to win ball games. That’s what we’re going to try to do.”
But I know, just like us guys, you guys want to know about Terrell Owens. Is he staying or is he going?
Again, Jones isn’t saying, although before the press conference was over, he did kind of cryptically answer the question, leaving himself open for interpretation, which he has been dearly trying to avoid on this subject.
So for starters Jones, when asked about if it’s one of the tougher decisions he’s had, deciding what to do with Owens, said, “I don’t know that it’s any tougher than decisions we’ve made, that I’ve made over the years . . . no tougher. There are several decisions on our roster that you look at, that you have to. This is the time of year you do that, and I’m not trying to be trite, but as you all know we’re evaluating players in college, we’re evaluating (free agents) and we’re evaluating our own roster. This is an ongoing thing. Not any different than this time last year. Not one bit different.”
Ah, but it was pointed out last year he signed Owens to an extension, adding three years to the final year of his contract and handing him $13 million in guaranteed funds.
“That’s what I’m saying, this is not one bit different . . . not one bit different,” Jones said.
Ah-ha, and this is why it’s wise for Jones not to address this subject, leaving himself open for interpretation because the next question was, so you are acknowledging you do have a decision to make?
“No I’m not, no I’m not at all,” Jones said. “I’m just saying we’re not, I’m not talking about what we’re doing with our roster, and you guys got the roster and know the people on the roster and so I don’t have to go into that. Our roster is our roster, and changes to that are pure speculation and have been.”
And then came maybe his first salty response, Jones bringing this up on his very own, knowing there have been reports out there about how he’s invited players to his house to discuss the viability of keeping Owens.
“And by the way,” Jones said without provocation, “I would like to have seen anybody who has come over to my house to visit about our roster – another player. That hasn’t happened – haven’t been near my house to visit about another player on the roster. I heard that speculated, that I’ve had people come over – players come over and talk about it. That just hasn’t happened.”
But the sparring didn’t end there, and by the way, Jones did say he has not spoken with Owens’ agent Drew Rosenhaus about anything this off-season pertaining to his client’s continued employment out here. But before the session was completed, Jones alluded one more time to Owens, without even mentioning his name, maybe adopting the Bill Parcells philosophy of not using his name when referencing the wide receiver.
“So that’s what we’re trying to do here, kind of manage that,” Jones said when talking about how frustrated and mad everyone seems to be with what happened last year. “It has nothing to do with the information. You’ll get every bit of the information that you should have. You and I both know that the one you are asking about all the time, if I have an answer for . . . if I gave you the answer you want to hear, then you would already have had it, so the fact you don’t have it ought to tell you something. Or it should.”
Open for interpretation?
Well, I got two. He either means no decision has been made on Terrell Owens, or that since nothing has been announced there is no decision to be made. Because after all, if you keep the guy, and you say you’re keeping him, then it sounds as if you had to make a decision, which would basically sanction all the speculation that doing so was highly debatable.
And if it is harmony you seek, then admitting as much likely would strike a wrong chord to start a new season.
So there, Jerry said a lot, trying the best he can to get you, uh sorry, can’t help myself, Strait.