Sunday, June 28, 2009

COMMENTARY : You want truth? Jones can't handle truth

Posted on Sunday, June 28, 2009

One last confession before summer vacation:

All you lovers of Eldorado Owens were right. The Dallas Cowboys, you said, would deeply regret the ouster of this lugnut.

And already, it's obvious, even long before the first official snap of the 2009 NFL season. Eldo is missed.

Not by a majority. Maybe not even by 10 percent. But I do think it's a strong opinion of one.

The one is Jerry.

The Valley Ranch voice of Jerry Jones has rambled on and on for weeks about the whats and whys involving the ouster of the receiver formerly known at No. 81.

Yes, you can blame the media for this "Owens issue" continuing to surface. Questions are asked, of course. But, and I swear, it has happened more than once that Jerry just launched into an explanation, bringing it up himself, as if he were answering voices in his head.

Not to go shrink on Jerry, but the best guess from here is Mr. Jones is still extremely uncomfortable with his decision - and it was strictly his decision - to release the lovely and somewhattalented Terrell Eldorado Owens. Plus, another best guess is that Jerry is now deep into personal regret.

To this day, Jones has yet to step up and simply tell the truth:

Eldo is gone because he's not worth the trouble. And obviously, he is serious trouble. At previous stops in the NFL, Owens' teams eventually had the same opinion. He's not worth the serious trouble.

But in admitting the truth, Jerry would also be admitting he made a mistake in bringing Eldo to town to start with. Rather than the truth, Jerry gives vague explanations that throw everybody else under the bus, including his quarterback ("Romo-friendly offense") and a young receiver in Miles Austin, who Jerry claimed was ready to be Owens' replacement in passing situations.

I love Miles Austin. But, no, he's not yet ready for that.

Under the team-first concept, the Cowboys are better off without Owens being here. Under the how-manygames-will-they-win concept, I think that will be 10 in the regular season. In other words, about the same as when Owens was here.

But it's all about the playoffs anyway. Winning a playoff game would be a good place to start.

Going shrink again on Jerry, I bet he now wishes he had never pulled that trigger on Owens. Jerry was always comfortable with Owens, although jolted a couple of weeks ago when his pal Eldo publicly called Jones a liar.

Owens made a brief local visit last week and, while on Jones' turf, wouldn't again publicly hang the liar tag on Jerry, which seems kind of chicken-spit. You come to a man's town, say the same thing you said about him from afar.

Actually, Terrell was verbally docile while he was here, whining only about being a "scapegoat" at Valley Ranch. With Eldo, it's always the fault of somebody else.

But his retreat is only temporary. In time, Owens will again be firing plenty of mouthy grenades from a Buffalo distance.

Without question, the ouster of Owens was the significant move of the off-season for the Cowboys. Addition by subtraction does work, but you only win with talent, and the Cowboys still have to sort through the talent level at receiver, which, by the way, was the same as it was with Owens here.

Plus, while the Cowboys spent the off-season attempting to end the locker room backstabbing of December, other teams in the NFC East seemed to be making leaps forward. Well, not Washington. But certainly Philadelphia, and possibly even the New York Giants, although even for a run-heavy club, you have to wonder about the loss of two veteran receivers who could be deadly at times.

Maybe that's Jerry's motive for this Owens regret. He can read a depth chart. He can wonder if the Cowboys, with or without Owens, have slipped in the off-season to No. 3 in the divisional pecking order.

The opening of training camp in San Antonio is one month away, and it's rather interesting that of all people, Jerry himself hasn't seemed to resolve the question of whether or not Owens should be here.

Even more scary, No. 1 son Stephen, the rock of reason at Valley Ranch, had some strange explanation last week on why Eldo is gone.

In describing what role the club wanted for Tony Romo, Stephen told "It's hard to take over leadership when you've got a strong personality like Terrell."

That's a knock right there on Romo. But what followed was the mistake of harking back to the Dynasty Days:

"A lot of people would say Michael [Irvin] was the leader. Then you might say, 'He was a receiver. What about Troy? He was the quarterback. Wasn't he the leader?' And the answer is, yeah, Troy was a leader. But if Michael wasn't supportive of him, Troy would've had problems."

Woo, boy. Stephen just disgraced two icons.

First, Owens should never be mentioned in any reference to Michael as a team leader. Michael was the ultimate team guy.

Michael wanted to win, and he wanted to be a star. Mike knew the only way that could happen was to pal up with Troy. Which, of course, he did.

Second, Irvin was the emotional leader, but as Mike will tell you, Troy was the hard-driving field general, the guy who barked the loudest about "getting it right," right down to the most minute details.

Stephen, you are better than that. Then again, Jerry must be making everybody edgy at Valley Ranch, even his rock of reason in Stephen.

This is no time for sellers' remorse from Jerry. This is the time for Jerry to hunker down and move forward, move beyond the media questions.

At the moment, however, that appears to be a problem that only the truth can fix.