- Jean-Jacques Taylor, ESPN Staff Writer
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IRVING, Texas -- Jerry Jones sells panties. He raps in pizza commercials.
Once, about a decade ago, Jerry told me he owned 76 different companies. Surely that number has increased over the years.
Oh, and he's also the general manager of the Dallas Cowboys, a once-proud organization that has languished in mediocrity for nearly 20 years with its 128-128 record since 1997.
The Cowboys have missed the playoffs four of the past five seasons and have not posted consecutive 10-win seasons since the 1995 and 1996 seasons.
Any other GM would've been fired by now. Since Jerry owns the team, he has a lifetime contract.
Jerry is among the NFL's worst general managers because marketing and making money trumps winning. Understand, Jerry would vehemently disagree.
No need to argue. His actions tell the tale.
As other teams move training camp to their practice facilities, why do you think the Cowboys keeping heading to Oxnard, Calif., or San Antonio?
Jerry's top priority is building the Cowboys brand and earning as many millions as he can stuff in his coffers.
Say whatever you want about Jerry, just make sure you refer to him as a marketing genius. He's made each of the other 31 NFL owners hundreds of millions with his aggressive approach to stadium-marketing agreements. That philosophical approach is among the reasons the debt-strapped team Jerry bought in 1989 is now worth $2.1 billion. Only the Manchester United soccer team is worth more.
The same thing that'll make you laugh will make you cry.
Jerry is about putting butts in seats. You don't do that by drafting offensive and defensive linemen in the first round. They don't score touchdowns. Their faces don't adorn billboards. They don't generate excitement the way a running back or a quarterback does.
Linemen ain't sexy.
Since 2000, 222 offensive and defensive linemen have been drafted in the first two rounds. Your Cowboys have drafted just five; only Washington has drafted fewer.
In case you wondered, three of those five linemen were drafted during the Bill Parcells era from 2003 to '06.
Parcells understood strong offensive and defensive lines win in the NFL. When the Cowboys won their titles during the glory days of the '90s, they did it with a mammoth, nasty offensive line and a swarming, quick, relentless defensive line.
From 1991 through 1996, the Cowboys had 10 different offensive and defensive linemen combine for 21 Pro Bowl appearances. Andre Gurode is the only lineman drafted since 2000 to make a Pro Bowl appearance for the Cowboys.
Maybe it's not all Jerry's fault.
Four Hall of Fame players. Each of them spectacular in their own way. Each appealing to a different demographic.
Frankly, Jerry was spoiled.
Perhaps that's why he's been chasing the same type of formula ever since. Ask yourself, has any owner chased wide receivers with less success?
Raghib Ismail signed a seven-year, $21.5 million deal in 1999. Then Jerry traded a pair of first-round draft picks for Joey Galloway and promptly signed him to a seven-year, $42 million deal in 2000. In 2008, Jerry swapped first-round picks with Detroit and gave them his first- and third-round picks in 2009 for Roy Williams. Jerry immediately signed Williams to a six-year, $54 million deal.
For those three contracts totaling $117.5 million and spanning nearly 10 seasons and 127 games, Jerry received one 1,000-yard season and 34 touchdowns.
At least Terrell Owens performed at a high level from the time Jerry forced him upon Parcells -- who never really wanted him -- in 2006. But the Cowboys released Owens after the 2008 season because he had become a locker room distraction.
Even Dez Bryant is a wild card. A litany of off-field issues is the only reason he was available with the 24th pick of the first round.
See, Jerry just doesn't have one issue as a GM that needs to be fixed. He has many, including his never-ending quest to get a bargain.
It's the reason why he's signed free-agent quarterbacks such as Ryan Leaf, Chad Hutchinson and Drew Henson. It's why he's drafted injured players such Chris Canty, Sean Lee and Bruce Carter over the years. And it's why he's acquired players with off-field issues such as Owens, Bryant and Adam "Pacman" Jones.
Some have worked out; others have not. Cheaper is not always better.
On occasion, it's better to pay full price and get a quality player with no baggage.
At 70, Jerry remains energetic and committed to the Cowboys.
It's unrealistic for us to expect him to change. And it's unrealistic for us to expect the Cowboys to be a consistent playoff team as long as Jerry is running things.
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