NFL

Troy Aikman Puts Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones in the Crosshairs and Fires Away

Despite being at the top of the NFC East, the Dallas Cowboys are having a rough season. America’s Team has underperformed, and head coach Jason Garrett is very much on the hot seat. As Garrett and the team get held over their coals, some ire has to go toward the owner of the team, Jerry Jones. There were some very specific criticisms levied at Jones about his management style from a somewhat surprising source: NFL on Fox analyst and former Cowboys star Troy Aikman. 

Troy Aikman’s career with the Dallas Cowboys

Troy Aikman is a Dallas Cowboys' legend, but he doesn't hesitate to fire away at owner-GM Jerry Jones.
Troy Aikman. | Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Aikman is very familiar with Jones and how he operates because he played for Jones’ team for many years. Before his time as a broadcaster, Aikman had a very successful run as the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. He won three Super Bowls with the team. Only Tom Brady (six), Terry Bradshaw (four), and Joe Montana (four) have more titles. 

Here’s a look at Troy Aikman’s career profile

  • 165 games played
  • Win-loss record of 94-71
  • Completed 61.5% of his passes
  • 32,942 yards
  • 165 touchdowns 
  • 141 interceptions
  • Hall of Fame inductee
  • Six-time Pro-Bowl selection

Aikman played for the Cowboys for 12 seasons before retiring in 2000. He remains the last Cowboys’ quarterback to lead the team as far as an NFC championship game. 

Jerry Jones has had an interesting 2019 season

Jones has had anything but a quiet 2019. In the preseason, he fanned the flames of Ezekiel Elliott’s holdout with the team by jokingly asking, “Zeke who?” during contract negotiations. Jones squashed the dispute with a big contract for Elliott, but it wasn’t a very professional approach. He’s also failed to secure a long-term extension for quarterback Dak Prescott, despite Prescott playing well. 

When  asked about Garrett’s job status, Jones said that Garrett “would be coaching in the NFL next year.” That called into question whether Jones meant Garrett would be coaching in Dallas or somewhere else. 

Most NFL owners hire front office executives who then hire a coaching staff. Jones’ style is drastically different. He’s the team’s general manager and exerts much more influence than most owners in the league. That doesn’t always sit well with fans, including Troy Aikman.

Troy Aikman’s criticism of Jones’ management style 

While much of the media’s criticisms around the Cowboys have focused on Garrett’s poor performance as head coach and Jones’ inability to fire him, Aikman took a different tack. He criticized the management style Jones uses. His argument? He’s too involved

“You look around the league — even really prominent owners that are very visible in our game — they’re not giving the medical reports after games about the team and who’s going to play the next game and who’s not going to play and how severe is the injury. Who played well? Who didn’t play well? Coaches don’t even know; they’ve got to watch the tape. Those things, I think it undermines a coaching staff, and it has an impact.

Dallas knows how it was done. I know how it was done. It was done with a really strong head coach who the players knew that that’s who they had to answer to. And for some reason, that model changed, and it hasn’t been very effective for a while.”

Troy Aikman is a Dallas Cowboys' legend, but he doesn't hesitate to fire away at owner-GM Jerry Jones.
Jerry Jones (left) welcomes Troy Aikman into the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor. | Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Aikman raised an interesting point: how can one question the coaching when the coach isn’t really in charge? The players look at Jones as the ultimate authority, which can take away from Garrett’s credibility. If the players see an owner who doesn’t allow the coach the freedom to make decisions, why should they respect what he says? 

It’s likely too late for Garrett to save his job, but Jones should probably give some serious thought to what Troy Aikman said and adopt a more hands-off approach with his next coach.