You have likely seen the line in its entirety. It is a favorite of many Dallas Cowboys fans. One of the greater series that NFL Films has put together is America’s Game which chronicles the season of each Super Bowl Champion.
Episodes are about an hour long and exist for every team that has hoisted the Lombardi Trophy. It was in the episode chronicling the 1992 Dallas Cowboys that the line you likely know was made more well-known. Just watch the first five minutes.
Michael Irvin, arguably the most passionate player to ever suit up for America’s Team, talks about how when he first joined the Cowboys that the team would lose and that he would cry as a result of being so upset. He notes that some players would make an effort to ease his worries by noting that they would still “pick up the check on Tuesday”, a reference to the fact that they would be getting paid no matter what.
The film goes through the firing of Tom Landry and the hiring of Jimmy Johnson whom Irvin obviously knew well. He says that he told Johnson about all of the Cowboys that were not “here to win” in an effort to purge that type of disposition from the team in the name of doing just that - winning.
This type of idea seems to be incredibly foreign to the current Dallas Cowboys
It isn’t breaking news that this Cowboys season has been challenging. There is a new coaching staff in place that is trying to navigate handling the most visible team in professional sports, doing so in the midst of a global pandemic has hardly aided their efforts, and they’ve lost some of the more important and talented people associated with the team over the course of the season. Namely, they lost quarterback Dak Prescott.
Dak talk can get a little monotonous, but however you feel about the quarterback you know that he has been highly regarded as a leader from just about day one. Some have questioned the true value of this and the time from his injury to now and counting has sure seemed to highlight exactly what that type of leader - a Michael Irvin-type of leader - is worth to a football team.
Last week we all reacted to what many deemed as a new low for the Cowboys, including Irvin himself, when the team had their game against the San Francisco 49ers this week flexed off of Sunday Night Football and into the noon slot where the least important teams play.
Linebacker Jaylon Smith met with the media on Thursday and was asked about the unprecedented move involving his team (and brand if we’re being honest). Not only did Smith not know until the question was asked that the Cowboys had been flexed out, but he offered up what might have been the worst answer that he possibly could have regarding the situation.
Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith on Sunday's game vs. 49ers being moved from prime-time slot to noon: "Honestly, I didn't know that until now. My thoughts right off the top are it's a business. ...I don't focus on what's happening in the future. I (am) embracing each moment, each day."— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) December 17, 2020
Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith on Dallas getting flexed out of a Sunday night game and moved to noon: “How does Jerry (Jones) feel about the situation? Is he hurt?”— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) December 17, 2020
Reporter: He argued that noon is a good time too.
Smith (laughing): “Well, sh*t, if the owner ain’t trippin, we good.”
Do I think that it is important in any way, shape, or form for Jaylon Smith to know what time kickoff is? No, that’s silly. Don’t get this twisted. It has nothing to do with Smith not knowing the time of the game, the network that it is on, or any of that needless information.
The thing about this here is the quote regarding Jerry Jones. It doesn’t seem like Smith cares that the Cowboys were relegated from the most elite television slot that the NFL offers to the scrap heap. The problem is that he does not seem to be bothered by the fact that the Cowboys are fading further and further into mediocrity. The problem is that his passivity is an extension of the way that Jerry Jones - the owner, not the head coach - feels about the situation. That is the problem here.
Jaylon Smith remains an incredible story in terms of his personal comeback and triumph, but his play on the field might actually be of better quality than his ability to read the room off of it. We are talking here about somebody that not only has been deemed a captain by the team, but someone who outright specified that being so was a goal of his (while declaring himself a leader) when he signed his extension with the club at the beginning of last season.
The first clip is Jaylon Smith in his press conference after he signed his extension.— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) December 8, 2019
The second one is @MikeGarafolo talking about how the young players aren't leading in the Cowboys locker room.
Disappointing is an understatement. (h/t @dallascowboys, @RapSheet) pic.twitter.com/eSEauHarhJ
To get down to brass tacks here... Jaylon Smith should be outraged that the Dallas Cowboys were flexed out of primetime. The fact that this happened is the most flagrant indication to date that they are a team headed more quickly in the wrong direction than Smith often is himself.
Perhaps you are saying that it was an answer in the moment. What would a more acceptable answer from Jaylon have been anyway? This season is one where everything is bad and nothing seems to please anyone.
“The standard of the Dallas Cowboys is to be the best in the NFL. We are disappointed that this is not the case at the moment and are working every day to make sure that it is who we are all of the time.”
This would have admittedly been a rather cliché answer, but that’s sort of what media sessions often turn into. Outright saying that as long as Jerry Jones is fine then everything is good is the modern day version of players telling Michael Irvin that the checks would be available for pick up on Tuesday.
It is too far of an assumption to suggest that Jaylon Smith just doesn’t care about the Dallas Cowboys having success. We know that he is a passionate person and we know that he cares about the tradition of the team. He started something very cool a few years ago by wearing the jersey of franchise greats while warming up on Thanksgiving Day, that is the type of thing that every fan loves to see and merely one example of Smith’s respect for the uniform that he wears.
But the time for delegating whether he should be upset about something to Jerry Jones needs to be very much over. Smith, and whoever else, should be upset about the state of things by their own accord to the point that the culture of the team builds off of that. They have become underdogs by way of their own lack of success, it’s now time to internalize that as opposed to looking at the suite upstairs to confirm whether it is satisfactory enough.