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Steelers, Packers Are in Jerry Jones' Bowl

Feb 1, 2011 – 9:06 PM
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David Whitley

David Whitley %BloggerTitle%

DALLAS -- Jerry Jones says he doesn't want the focus to be on him this week. What better way than to have a 45-minute press conference to talk about himself, his team, his stadium and his plans to dominate the universe.

"It's certainly not to take away, not that I could, from two great football teams," Jones said.

Yes he could. In a Super Bowl first, there are actually three teams in play this week. It's the Packers vs. the Steelers vs. their old nemesis, the Cowboys. Never in the XLV years of Super Bowls has so much attention been paid to the host franchise.

Packers and Steelers are asked how it feels that they're here and the Cowboys aren't. When Pittsburgh's bus pulled up at the team hotel Monday, fans greeted the players with a "Steelers Country" banner. A few natives quickly appeared and unfurled a "Cowboys Country" banner.

That sure never happened during Super Bowl weeks in Miami or Tampa or Detroit. The host owner has also never staged his own press conference. But Tuesday wasn't just another exercise in vanity for Jones.

He and the Cowboys really are part of this week's story. Jerry is the reason we're all here. The sad and ongoing irony for Dallas fans is that he's also the reason the Cowboys aren't here.

His only real flaw as an owner is that he thinks he's a coach. If only Jones would learn from this week's interlopers.

The Packers and Steelers are everything the Cowboys aren't. Like millions of Americans, I like the fact those small-town, blue-collar, soot-covered, cheese-eating franchises are here and Jerry's glamour boys aren't.

The contrast extends to the executive offices. The Rooney family has run the Steelers with calm and class since before the 68-year-old Jones was born.

There are those 112,158 owners of the Packers. They control the 4,750,937 shares, appoint a board of directors and never hang out on the sideline during games or spew drunken boasts in bars.

That's Jerry's schtick, and he just can't help himself. In a lot of ways, he's the world's greatest owner. His passion reaches to the sky. Just look at Cowboys Stadium.

It rises like a giant pimple out of the prairie land between Dallas and Fort Worth. As it was going up, the economy was going south.

"Don't be so glamorous," people told Jones. "Let's be a little austere."

The franchise architect could have built the thing for a mere $600 million.

"I had a decision to make," Jones said.

When the choice is between making a splash or a ripple, Jones is the world's biggest belly-flopper. He built Jerry's World for $1.2 billion.No he didn't. When the choice is between making a splash or a ripple, Jones is the world's biggest belly-flopper. He built Jerry's World for $1.2 billion. With JJ, the show must always go on. It goes back to his father, who moved to Arkansas in the 1940s and opened a grocery store.

"We were promoters," Jones said.

His father would go up and down the aisles wearing a Cowboy hat and twirling six-shooters. He'd hire a band to attract customers. Six decades later, his son is selling Super Bowl tickets for $200.

They won't actually get you into the game. They will get you onto the premises and let you see it on a big screen. Oh yeah, fans also have to buy a package of four tickets if they want to be part of that crowd.

Such is the marketing genius of Jerry. He bought the team for $140 million and has turned it into a $1.8 billion colossus. The Cowboys are the NFL's most popular team despite the fact they've been a .500 franchise for 15 years.

They have two playoff wins in that time. The Steelers have two Super Bowl wins in the past six years. The Packers were in the Cowboys cement boots just three years ago. Now they are as young and promising a franchise as the NFL has to offer.

How close are we to seeing that in Dallas?

"You need a pair of binoculars," Deion Sanders said.

And he loves his ex-boss. But you don't have to be an ex-Pro Bowler to see why the world's greatest owner is also its worst.

Jones has the connections to invite Arkansas chum Bill Clinton to Sunday's game. Bubba phoned back and said he couldn't make it. The key part of the story is where Jones got the call.

He was at the Senior Bowl, scouting players in his role as General Manager. You'll never see Dan Rooney pretending to be Mike Tomlin, or those Packers owners calling down plays.

Jones' ego giveth, and it taketh away. Despite 15 years of hard evidence, he thinks he's as good at building football teams as he is at building stadiums.

He couldn't share the stage with Jimmy Johnson, so that led to Barry Switzer, Chan Gailey, Dave Campo and Wade Phillips. Now comes Jason Garrett. He might be a fine coach, but he wouldn't have gotten the gig if he didn't know his place.

"We all have certain skills," Jones said, "and certain talents and different ways to show them."

Jerry's skills make him the NFL's consummate marketer. The Steelers and Packers have rolled into town, but it's Jones who is going around wearing a Cowboy hat and twirling his pistols.

If only he could learn to stop shooting his team in the foot.
Filed under: Sports