Jimmy Johnson, in case you are reading this, stop saying that the Dallas Cowboys are a country club! .
Everyone thinks that it was you, not Jerry who won those lombardies. Even the last one, because Barry Switzer won it with your team.
So let it go! Those comments, after all this years, only make you sound vindictive and petty!
No seriously Jimmy, I don't mean any of that. You were a stud, and I'm only saying this to see if I can stir some debate here.
However, do dial it down a little bit. The cowboys are being handled differently than you would, but it may work out, and then you would come out as ignorant. Don't be that guy who thinks his way is the only way!
Seriously though, I do write this in response to many commenters who believe that only Jimmy Johnson's clone can take us back to the Promised Land.
I believe that acting upon such belief would deprive us of other forms of leadership. Coaches in the mold of Bill Walsh, Joe Gibbs, and of course, our very own Tom Landry, who led in different ways. I also write this post, because leadership both in football and in other areas is a topic that interests me.
So, there you go. Let's start by realising that there are many types of leaders of which I will only name a few:
- Generals. When we think of leadership, the first picture that comes to our mind are military commanders. Larger than life figures, full of charisma, intelligence, and courage. Men that you would bleed for.
- Saints. As a general rule, we wouldn't follow humble, softspoken (and perhaps even physically unimpressive) men, to a pool party, much less to a quest to topple repressive regimes. Nevertheless, men like Gandhi or Mandela, with clarity of vision, and the determinations to act upon it, did just that. And they succeeded.
- Tyrants. Some men can't command the respect or the love of their peers, but are effective at aligning their interests with other people, and divide or destroy potential rivals by devious and cruel means. Think of the tyrants of North Korea and the Middle East, whose day of reckoning can't come soon enough.
- Professionals. Other leaders might lack charisma, but make up for it with an aura of competence. You are willing to follow those people because they have a plan that you believe will work. Think of men like Al Gore or Mitt Romney, whose politics you might love or hate, but who you must admit were a few inches away of becoming the leaders of the free world, in spite of having the charisma of frozen yoghurt.
Certainly, football is a peculiar game, practiced by alpha male types, so no NFL coach could be successful without having a little bit of general embedded in his personality, but you have to admit that Tom Landry, Vince Lombardy, Bill Belichik, Bill Parcells, Joe Gibbs, Joe Gruden, and Jimmy Johnson all were leaders in very different ways, so there are more than one way to be successful in this league.
Having said that, the questions that matter to us as fans of the Dallas Cowboys are:
- What type of Leader is Jason Garrett?
- Is he the leader of his team?
To the first question, I have a feeling that he is too cerebral and in control of his emotions to be the laugh-in-the-face-of-death kind of leader, but he is not a wimp either. I think that he is the guy that in the case of an emergency, would assess the situation for a couple of minutes, and he would suddenly just say: "All right people, we need to do a, b, c and d"
You can also tell by the topics he addresses in his press-conferences, that he is a Professional type of leader. He is never impulsive. He is never caught of guard. He is about following a system. He is always on message. This guy, in spite of initial appearances, doesn't act as a tactician or a strategist (he doesn't appear to be much into the Xs and Os aspects of the game). He speaks like a CEO. He is always referring to personnel, culture, systems and execution. If this guy hadn't followed a career in the NFL, he would be the Chairman of the Board and CEO of his own company, or at the very least, VP of something in a multinational corporation.
To the second question, many of you look at the recent losses, and Garret's apparent lack of emotion, and you conclude that this guy doesn't have it in him to be a leader. But that is not the complete picture.
- Small organizations tend to take upon the personality of their leaders (in large organizations, it usually is the other way around). In the past, we have witnessed that when lacking a strong coach, the Dallas Cowboys become a bit more like Jerry Jones. Impulsive, undisciplined and too much in love with themselves. But that is not the case now. In spite of the fact that they are having a tough season, players keep playing hard, and remain loyal to each other and the coaches. In other times, we would already be witnessing finger pointing, angry outbursts, internal struggles, and media leaks.
- Secondly, think about this, and really let it sink in: not only does Jason Garrett report to Jerry Jones, but his second in command is a guy by the name of Rob Ryan, brother of Rex Ryan and son of Buddy Ryan. All of those guys have typical alpha male personalities and are very charismatic. In fact, they reflect the kind of I'll-smoke-this-cigar-drink-this-bourbon-and-kill-me-some-communists kind of leadership that many people would wish to see in Jason Garrett. Those guys sometimes are too full of themselves to follow other leaders (remember the feud between Ditka and Ryan), they would not follow a wimp. If Garrett wasn't capable of leading, the vacuum would be filled by Rob Ryan. You would see it immediatly, because the players would take upon him. But that is not the case, in fact, it would appear that Ryan has dialed down his act a little, and he doesn't seem unhappy about it, which I would think would be the case if he had been forced to do it. Is it possible that he has taken some cues from Jason Garrett as well?.
Of course, this could all change in a heartbit. A good part of being a leader is that you must be able to sell your vision to your followers. That requires persuasion, and trust. But at some time that vision must be supported by facts. It is entirely possible that a few more losses would send this team into a tailspin. In that case, Jason Garrett would surely be fired. But if in spite of the tough times, let's say a six win season (although in my opinion they should end up winning closer to 8), the players keep responding to Garrett, I believe Jerry Jones would be willing to give him another draft and another free agent season two fix the offensive line and add more depth to the other positions.