The Dallas Cowboys are truly a storied franchise. In their nearly 50-year history they’ve won 5 Super Bowls, and appeared in 3 others. Many all-time NFL greats have been proud to wear the star on their helmet: Roger Staubach, Mel Renfro, Bob Lilly, Harvey Martin, Randy White, Tony Dorsett, Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, Emmit Smith. Of course, all that greatness engenders a certain swagger – some might even say an “a**holishness.” A lot of it was probably earned – to the victors go the spoils, after all. Then again, there are occasions when a-holishness goes beyond mere bluster, and becomes genuinely, even disturbingly abrasive.
There are those who would say that, for a franchise that’s been around less than half-a-century, the Cowboys have featured an inordinate number of accomplished a-holes. One might even accuse the team of being some kind of a-hole magnet. Who knows why this should be – maybe it’s all the success, or maybe it has something to do with Texas. Whatever the case, the Cowboys have certainly contributed mightily to the world’s supply of a-holes. And here, courtesy of TVA, is a countdown of the mightiest:
The 10 Greatest A**holes in Cowboy History
10. Barry Switzer. This one requires little elaboration – I mean, look at the guy’s face. He’s one of those people you just want to punch in the mouth. And it gets even worse after he starts talking – then you want to take a shovel and whale on the guy until his head resembles pumpkin-guts. Extra a-hole cred to Switzer for building his entire legacy as a coach on Jimmy Johnson’s players, and still thinking he was great.
9. Drew Pearson. All right – there’s really no reason to dislike Drew Pearson. As far as I know he’s a nice guy, and he was a great player in his day. But I’m a Viking fan, which means I’m required to hate his guts. You know what I’m talking about: December 28, 1975. The NFC playoffs. Vikings lead the Cowboys late. Roger Staubach throws a prayer to Pearson who pushes-off on Nate Wright, knocking him to the ground. Pearson catches the ball and scores to win the game for Dallas, knocking the Vikings out. Viking fans whine for years and years about the call the refs never made. It needs to be pointed out now that I was two days shy of my second birthday when this all happened and didn’t know a football from a big pile of turd. In fact, I probably would’ve been more interested in the turd than the football. Still, I hate Drew Pearson – irrational, yes, but that’s how it is.
8. Terrell Owens. It takes a real a-hole to only have a little over a year’s worth of tenure with a team and still make that franchise’s top 10 most abrasive personalities list – and that’s what T.O. is, a real a-hole. There’s no use going over the laundry-list of violations again, is there? Questioning Jeff Garcia’s sexuality; throwing Donovan McNabb under the bus; numerous lame touchdown celebrations…these are all well-known incidents. For me, though, the greatest moment in the history of T.O. a-holishness came during an interview he did once, when he took the reporter on a tour of his house. There in T.O.’s posh living room was a bookshelf. And on T.O.’s bookshelf? Ten copies of T.O.’s book, all lined up. Not even a Bible or a cookbook or anything. All I could think to myself was, “Where’s Lisa Left-Eye Lopes when you need her?”
7. Don Meredith. Another one that really needs no explanation. “Turn out the lights, the party’s over.” How the hell did Cosell go all those years without wringing his neck? How did Gifford manage to survive being in the same small space with “Dandy” Don and Cosell every Monday night without going insane? Oh wait, I think he did go insane…how else would you explain his marrying that harpy Kathie Lee?
6. Nate Newton. 213 pounds of marijuana in a van? Are you kidding Nate? Haven’t you ever heard of airplanes? Gravel strips out in the desert? Oh, and that wasn’t good enough – a week later on the interstate with another 175 pounds. Yeah, I know…Snoop was having a party. Great job Nate. Way to protect that legacy of yours. No way you’ll be remembered for this more than being a key player on great teams.
5. Deion Sanders. Deion’s another guy like T.O. whose a-hole credentials go way beyond his career as a Cowboy. Actually, it’s hard to pick Prime Time’s greatest moment. Was it chucking water on Tim McCarver in the Reds’ clubhouse after a baseball game? Telling a mechanic he owed money that Jesus said he didn’t have to pay? His idiotic “music career” featuring “Must Be the Money,” a song so hideous it makes “The Super Bowl Shuffle” sound like “A Day in the Life?” Or did his greatest moment come more recently when for some reason he decided it would be a good idea to stick up for the dog-murdering Michael Vick? Let’s face it – Deion is just a prime time a-hole. Which made him a perfect fit for the Cowboys.
4. Jimmy Johnson. The hair. It’s all about the hair. I’m sorry, but no man who calls himself a heterosexual should put that much effort into his coif. No man who calls himself a heterosexual should ever have the word “coif” mentioned in connection with him. Actually, it’s more than just the hair – it’s the double-whammy of being a Hurricane a-hole and a Cowboy a-hole. And it’s the failed tenure as Dolphin coach, followed by an insufferable stint as a member of the Fox pre-game team. And it’s the fact that, just by nature, Johnson seems to exude arrogance and self-importance. I mean, don’t get me wrong Jimmy, you did a great job – you drafted Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmit Smith. After fleecing the Vikings in the Herschel Walker trade. All right, I confess – it’s not the hair, the Fox gig or the fact that he just got lucky drafting. It’s all about the trade. The three championships that trade turned into for the Cowboys. The endless crap I had to take in high school about what a loser Herschel was. Having to listen to Herschel’s lame excuses about not understanding the “Vikins’ system.” For God’s sake Herschel – it’s “Vikings” with a “g.” Damn you Jimmy Johnson – damn you and your perfect hair.
3. Michael Irvin. The “Playmaker” deserves our eternal disdain, I believe, for almost single-handedly spawning the modern showboating wide receiver. Before Ocho Cinco, T.O., Steve Smith and the rest there was Irvin – except that Irvin earned the championship hardware to back all that up. And that probably ended up making him worse, all that winning. Nothing inflates an a-hole more than validation. And like so many of our memorable a-holes, Irvin actually got worse after he retired. That’s all ESPN’s fault though – they insist on hiring these “personalities” as a way of bringing publicity to their tedious analysis segments. I’m not even going to talk about the drug arrests, the idiot tearful apologies, the blubbering Hall-of-Fame speech and the comments about Tony Romo’s ancestors having a case of jungle fever.
2. (tie) Jerry Jones With His Original Face; Jerry Jones With His New Face. If there were any justice in the world, Jerry Jones would be a used-car salesman. Or some local politician out in the fly-ridden backwoods of Texas someplace. But somehow Jerry managed to make a fortune, and bought the Cowboys, and has spent the years since playing out his frustrated-jock fantasies. The highlight of Jerry’s career as an a-hole had to be when he denied that he was about to fire Jimmy Johnson, then about two minutes later fired Jimmy Johnson and hired Barry Switzer. Or was it when he dumped legendary coach Tom Landry and replaced him with Johnson? Or was it when he decided to have his face peeled off and replaced with that freaky Halloween-mask he now insists on calling his face? There are so many reasons to passionately despise Jerry Jones – I can’t pick just one.
1. Tom Landry. Yeah, I said it – Tom Landry was the biggest a-hole in the history of the Cowboys. Yes, I know – he was a God-fearing man who fought in World War II and I’m a jerk for calling him an a-hole. Well, I’m sorry, but he just was one. You know it’s true too – that whole stoical, “Greatest Generation” thing he had going with the hat and never changing his expression in several decades. Oh, we know Tom – you grew up in the Depression. You’re so indomitable. Please. That was as much of an ego-driven act as anything T.O. or Michael Irvin or the rest of them ever pulled. It was all about projecting this kind of imposing, God-like sense of detachment – this quality of superior moral character. And yeah, I admit – it worked. He made his players fear and respect him, and they won because of it. But that doesn’t mean that, underneath the facade, Landy wasn’t as full of himself in his own way as every self-serving showboater under the sun. In fact, I think he may have been more full of himself. He may have had one of the most gigantic egos in the history of sports. And then there’s the hat – that always used to get me when I was a kid. This guy on the sidelines of a football game wearing a hat. This grim, unsmiling dude who obviously thought he was the king poop of turd mountain. He became a monument to his own perceived greatness long before anyone had a chance to enshrine him in anything, or erect any statues. And by doing so he set the tone for decades of Dallas Cowboy achievement in shameless a**holery.