Richard Justice: “I don’t think I can dream any bigger than Sunday.”–Jerry Jones.

Dec 11, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on the field prior to a game against the Houston Texans at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

Richard Justice: “I don’t think I can dream any bigger than Sunday.”–Jerry Jones.

   So much is on the line for the Dallas Cowboys this weekend that it has a chance to be one of the most monumentally important days in the life and times of America’s Team.

    Or one of the worst.

“Let me just start off,” Jerry Jones told 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, “I don’t think I can dream any bigger than Sunday. It’s that important.”

   If the Cowboys lose, it’ll be a round of same-old, same-old commentary, and justifiably so. The Cowboys are playing the 49ers on Sunday with a berth in the NFC Championship Game on the line.

   The Cowboys haven’t played in one of those since January 14, 1996. Playing in that game once felt like the Cowboys’ birthright. In 26 seasons between 1970 and 1995, the Cowboys got there a whopping 14 times.

   That’s when America’s Team was born. The Cowboys represented ratings gold even at a time when NFL games set the standard for television ratings. (Of the top 100 highest-rated shows in 2022, 88 were NFL games.)

   Since then? The Cowboys star grew so large—love ‘em or hate ‘em—that their reputation has only grown despite all the mediocrity that has rattled behind them like a string of tin cans in the seasons since that last NFC Championship Game.

   (Once when the Cowboys had lost three straight NFC Championship Games, Cowboys president Tex Schramm said he’d never been so humiliated in his life.)

   The Cowboys rode that success and heroes like Tom Landry and Roger Staubach to become the most valuable sports franchise in North America. 

   Last weekend’s victory over the Bucs was the Cowboys’ fifth playoff victory in 27 years. Our poor pitiful Texans have won one less playoff game than that since they were born in 2002.

   Okay, first things first.

   As important as Sunday’s game is for quarterback Dak Prescott, it’s way more important for Jones.

   His legacy may be riding on this one game. Rather his legacy as a winner. 

“This is deja vu,” Jones told the radio station. “It reminds me of our first championship game when we went out there to play the 49ers.”

   You may not be losing sleep over Jerry’s legacy. Jerry is the NFL’s best owner if the sole purpose of owning an NFL team is about making money and building a fabulous brand name. Only the New York Yankees even come close to the Cowboys in this area.

   His original $150-million investment in 1989 is now worth a cool $8 billion, or thereabouts. Some of that is a byproduct of how the value of NFL television rights has escalated.

   But a big part of it is Jerry’s careful nursing of the Cowboys brand. In terms of sponsorships and creating additional revenue streams, Jerry changed the way business is done in the NFL.

   In this way, Jerry gets it. He oversaw construction of a beautiful stadium in Arlington as well as a spectacular headquarters/shopping facility/destination in Frisco.

   All Jerry hasn’t done is win enough. Even with all that money to hire the best scouts, the best coaches, the best everything, the Cowboys have only recently started getting decisions right in free agency and the draft.

   Some of that success can be traced to adding Will McClay to the personnel and scouting departments. The Cowboys once excelled in the draft. Now they’re getting it right way more often than they did.

   Everything changed for the Cowboys when McClay took quarterback Dak Prescott in the fourth round of the 2016 draft. When they went 13-3 that season, the Cowboys have made the playoffs four times in six seasons (excluding his 2020 injured season).

   (Dominate pass-rusher Micah Parsons, the 12th overall pick in 2021, represents another smart decision by the Cowboys’ personnel department.)

   (Another tribute to the Cowboys’ smart work in the draft comes from a study done by in which the Cowboys have the youngest roster among the remaining eight playoff teams at 25 years, nine months, five days.)

   What the Cowboys have not done enough lately is win in the playoffs, which is how Cowboys quarterbacks are judged. He will not be mentioned in the same breath as Staubach and Troy Aikman until he at least takes his team to the NFC Championship Game.

   Prescott took a big step in that direction with last Monday’s 31-14 victory over the Bucs—the Cowboys’ first road playoff game since January 15, 1995.

   He was excellent in completing 25 of 33 passes for 305 yards and four touchdowns. If he comes close to repeating that performance Sunday in San Francisco, lots will change for both him and the Cowboys.

   To polish a reputation against the 49ers is how Cowboys legends are born. Staubach’s legend are born during a 17-point fourth quarterback comeback in San Francisco in 1972. Aikman and Jimmy Johnson had one of their finest hours in beating the 49ers on their way to winning Super Bowl XXVII in 1993.

“Alvin Harper catching that and running 90 percent of the field and making a big score that launched us into a Super Bowl,” Jones said. “We get it done Sunday, and I may roll my eyes back and they never get back around straight again.”

   Sunday will be the ninth time the Cowboys and 49ers have played one another in the postseason. That’s tie with Packers-49ers and Rams-Cowboys for the most frequent NFL postseason matchups.

   The 49ers eliminated the Cowboys 23-17 in the first round of last season’s playoffs. That may be added incentive, but the Cowboys say they don’t need it.

Asked if the Cowboys had been hoping for a 49ers rematch, Prescott said: “Most definitely I did. I think this whole team did. Obviously, using that loss last year as a motivation and just kind of the focal point, I guess, of the resiliency that we carried into the offseason.”

   “I think we are all looking forward to it,’’ Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said. “Hey, I know we’re all looking forward to it. This is how it’s supposed to be. The league can humble you, but it also can put you in a position to have opportunities to resolve some things.’’

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1 Comment

  • It wouldn’t easy game but Cowboys should Win because now Cowboys has fast and smart and all he has number 4 one the best quarterback in Football 🏈 Dak Prescott 4

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