By now you've almost certainly seen or heard the radio interview in which Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones addressed that ever-nagging issue about whether he'd ever hire a general manager to run the team. Jones has been the team's GM since he became its owner, and he continues to say it's a non-issue:
"We are not structured that way," Jones told KRLD-FM on Tuesday morning. "We didn't structure it that way with my ownership. There's no way that I would be involved here and not be the final decision-maker on something as important as players, and that is a key area. That's never been anybody's misunderstanding. It's been a debated thing, but it's just not going to happen.
"We've had success doing it this way and we're going to have success in the future doing it this way," Jones said. "It eliminates some very serious issues when you look around the league, as to creating an additional layer that you're continually having decisions, making changes and doing those kinds of things."
And that's really that. Fans can wring their hands and wail and gnash their teeth about this all they want. Tim MacMahon can write a column calling for Jones to hire a GM, and if you want to conclude that the Cowboys will never win another Super Bowl as long as Jones insists on being GM, you're welcome to do that. He points out that they won three of them under the current arrangement, a couple of decades ago, and believes they can do it again.
Do I think the Cowboys would be better off bringing in a top football mind to make their football decisions? Of course I do. Even if you buy into Jones' idea that he was good enough at it in the early 1990s to deliver Super Bowl championships, you'd be hard pressed to find any GM or high-ranking NFL personnel person in the same position with the same team as he was in 18 years ago. Times change, organizations change and evolve and different voices are sometimes needed.
But when this issue comes up with Jones and the Cowboys, I think it says more about the condition of being a sports fan than it does anything else. Fans today believe themselves entitled to a say in the way their team is run, and they're just not correct. If you're a fan of the Dallas Cowboys, that doesn't mean the Dallas Cowboys are your team. They are Jones' team. He bought them. He owns them. He can run them any way he wants to run them. If he wants to make himself the GM or the coach or the right tackle, he's going to do it. And while it might be nice to think he cares enough about your opinion to factor it into his decision, you have no right or reason to expect that to be the case.
Fans are volunteers. If you don't like the way the team is run, you don't have to be its fan. You don't have to buy the jersey or go to the games or watch them on TV or care even a little bit whether they win or they lose. You can go play golf on Sunday instead, reconnect with the wife and kids, whatever. There's no preexisting condition that requires you to be a Dallas Cowboys fan. It's not a condition of your existence, like your hair color or your height or the sound of your voice.
But if you choose to be a fan of the Dallas Cowboys in 2012, you do so knowing the conditions of your fandom, and one of those is that your team's attention-loving owner has decided that the best way to structure the organization is to make himself the general manager. You don't like it? You don't have to go tailgate. But as long as Jones is the owner of the Cowboys -- which seems certain to be as long as he lives -- that's the way it's going to be. To me, the time people spend complaining about it feels like it could be better spent.