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Cowboys Midsummer Madness, Regional Semifinals: Jimmy Johnson vs. Michael Irvin

The Midsummer Madness regional semifinal round is underway! Today’s Sweet Sixteen match-up features three seed Jimmy Johnson facing off against two seed Michael Irvin. Who will survive and advance to the Elite Eight?

The second of the Paul Tagliabue Regional's semifinal match-ups pits coach vs. player. Third-seeded Jimmy Johnson, who created championship caliber squads in Dallas and at the University of Miami - both of which belong in the conversation of the greatest teams their respective sport has ever seen - and second-seeded Michael Irvin, The Playmaker, a man who was not only a key contributor, but also both teams' spiritual and emotional leader. When Jimmy took on his rebuild of the Cowboys in 1989, it was Irvin who told him which guys from the old regime had grown content with losing...something neither man could ever stomach. Who will emerge victorious and battle Roger Staubach for the regional title? Read the bios and comments and hit the poll, faithful readers!

Wanna keep tabs on the state of the bracket or look ahead to future contests? All the Midsummer Madness info you could ever want can be found right here.


Player: Jimmy Johnson

Position: head coach

Seed: 3

How he got here: defeated Herb Scott, 570-148; defeated Cornell Green, 430-244


Name Years Career AV Pro Bowls All-Pro RoH HoF
James William Johnson

Bio: Johnson took over a moribund and talent-depleted Cowboys roster in 1989 and, in rapid fashion, transformed it into not only a championship-quality team, but one of the most dominant clubs the league has ever seen. And he did this almost single-handedly; for the first few years after the Jones-Johnson due took over the Cowboys, Jerry was concerned with getting the franchise back into the black. Consequently, Jimmy served as head coach, general manager, head of scouting, and de facto defensive coordinator (it was his system that Dave Wanstedt and Dave Campo oversaw).

With his mutiple titles, Johnson was charged with upgrading numerous areas of the organization that had been allowed to lapse under the previous administration: the scouting department; the strength and conditioning program; team speed; overall talent; and a winning attitude. In the late 80s, the Cowboys had grown to accept losing; Jimmy cleaned out all the veterans who had developed this tolerance, and then taught a young team how to win. And this is perhaps the most important part of his legacy: Jimmy was a master motivator. Johnson was an extremely shrewd psychologist, with the ability to inspire both individual players and the entire team.

Equally important was his genius as a talent evaluator. To build a Super Bowl winner, he explored every option: he stockpiled draft picks (thank you, Herschel Walker and Steve Walsh trades), made numerous trades, and acquired "Plan B" free agents such as Jay Novacek. Most significant was the way Jimmy revolutionized the draft; coming into the league in an era that valued veterans more than rookies, he understood that the best way to build a winner was through the draft. As a result, he stockpiled draft picks (thank you Herschel Walker and Steve Walsh!) and, using the now well-known "Draft Trade Value Chart," he moved up and down the draft, acquiring value from clubs that failed to comprehend the relative value of draft picks.

He is one of only six men in NFL history to coach consecutive Super Bowl winners, winning Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII in 1992-93. By doing so, Johnson became the first man (and one of three) to lead teams to both national championship and Super Bowl wins. Most impressive was his record late in the season, when it mattered most; from 1991-93, Johnson led the Cowboys to a record of 10-1 in the  month of December, and a 7-1 playoff mark. And they were most dominant against the best competition; of those seven playoff wins, only one (their first, a 17-13 victory over Chicago) was by fewer than ten points.

Member comments:

Member Comment
Shaymer No matter how it ended with Jimmy, Jimmy was responsible for 3 Super Bowls, and he won the same amount of Super Bowls as Tom Landry in 25 fewer years.

Jimmy - got us 2 and Switzer won with his guys! Now Jerry had a hand in it all too but wish we could have kept Jimmy 10 or more years - can you imagine!?

If it were not for him and his teams in the 90s, imagine where the Cowboys would be now; imagine how much less love and hate the Cowboys would receive....He deserves a TON of credit for our Cowboys Legacy. I'm hoping in 30 years when they are talking about the Cowboys they will be talking a triumvirate of Super Bowl Winning Cowboys coaches named Landry, Johnson and Garrett! Go Cowboys!


How 'Bout Jimmy Johnson?

The hair:


Player: Michael Irvin

Position: wide receiver

Seed: 2

How he got here: defeated Bill Bates, 600-150; defeated Harvey Martin, 593-132


Name Years Career AV Pro Bowls All-Pro RoH HoF
Michael Jerome Irvin

Bio: Irvin was drafted by the Cowboys in the first round of the 1988 NFL Draft, as the last first rounder selected by the Schramm-Brandt-Landry triumverate. He became the first rookie receiver in Cowboys' history to start a game in 20 years, finishing his rookie season with a 20.4 yards per catch average, tops in the NFC. After two injury-plagued seasons, he exploded in 1991, leading the NFL in yards (1,523, on 93 catches) and making the first of five consecutive Pro Bowls. In 1992, he helped lead the Cowboys to Super Bowl XXVII, where he caught seven passes for 114 yards and the two second-quarter touchdowns that essentially sealed the game.

At 6'2" and 207 pounds, Irvin was a big, physical receiver who manhandled cornerbacks and often was able to use his big body to make tough catches in traffic. He was also a vocal, emotional leader who set the tone for the great 90s Cowboys through his passion and work ethic. He was instrument in the Cowboys again winning Super Bowls in 1993 and '95. In 1995, he set Cowboys records for receptions (111) and receiving yards (1,603), while scoring 10 touchdowns and setting an NFL record with 11 games with over 100 yards receiving.

From 1991 through 1998, Irvin recorded 1,000-yard seasons in all but one year (1996, when he missed the season's first five games), and racked up an impressive 10,265 receiving yards. Irvin finished his career as the Cowboys receiving leader in games played, receptions, and yards, and second to Bob Hayes in touchdowns. His 47 100-yard receiving games remains the third most in NFL history, and his 87 postseason receptions and 1,315 postseason receiving yards place him second in NFL history behind Jerry Rice. Irvin was inducted into the Ring of Honor in 2005 and elected to the Hall of Fame in 2007.

Member comments:

Member Comment
Realist Larry Irvin did what he did one-on-one, and is the only player, the only one, I ever saw outplay Deion. And not just once in the playoffs against the 49ers, but TWICE, including a game against the Falcons where Irvin/ Aikman were about the only ones in the league who threw it at Sanders.
double duece22 For one game, I take Michael Irvin; I would even let you pick the QB. Change that, I would take Irvin for every game. He could play in any generation & thrive.

Irvin in my mind is the greatest

The passion he brought to the game and practice field weren’t matched. the pure love of the origination years later and always warms my heart. Find another analyst guy that consistently goes in favor of Dallas. he is maybe the only player that truly bleeds blue and silver. What ever happens in this tournament I don’t think there is a better true cowboy then him.

Alright, BTBers, which man advances to the Elite Eight?

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