All-time coaches: Jimmy Johnson No. 13

May, 30, 2013
5/30/13
2:49
PM ET
How 'bout them all-time great NFL coaches? Our series looks today at the man who came in at No. 13 in our poll, former Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson.

Johnson came from the college ranks, and he brought a college coach's fire and intensity to the NFL. Tabbed by his college buddy Jerry Jones to succeed legendary Cowboys coach Tom Landry, Johnson presided over a run of Super Bowl success that burnished the Cowboys' legacy as one of the sport's signature franchises and set a standard to which the team has struggled for nearly two decades now to live up. Former Cowboy Nate Newton offered this as part of his analysis of Johnson's coaching style:
[+] EnlargeJohnson
AP Photo/Charles KrupaJimmy Johnson coached the Cowboys to back-to-back Super Bowl titles in 1992 and '93.
"Jimmy was a master manipulator. He didn't have to cuss you out or dog you to get you to do what he wanted you to do. He took what you feared most and used it to motivate you.

"Stuff like Michael Irvin's fear of not being able to feed his family. Or Troy Aikman's fear of not being the best quarterback in the league. or Emmitt Smith's fear of not being on the field.

"He used my fear of letting the coach down. You could say anything and it wouldn't faze me, but you cornered me off and got me in a one-on-one situation and made me commit I would do whatever I said I was going to do because you showed faith and trust in me. Jimmy knew that. And he used it."

It's got to be exhausting to coach the way Johnson coached -- devoted to finding the right way to motivate each individual player on a daily basis. He did it to tremendous effect in Dallas, less so with the Dolphins. And while his résumé was strong enough that he likely could have stayed in coaching, he retired at the age of 56 to a comfortable life of TV broadcasting and fishing in the Florida Keys. His legacy as an all-time NFL coaching great rests on the Super Bowl titles he won in Dallas, coaching legends like Aikman, Smith and Irvin. The fact that he had to fight his way out of Landry's shadow to succeed and that the Cowboys really haven't been the same since he left only strengthen his case for the spot he occupies on this list.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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