Jimmy Johnson ‘proud’ to take his place in Cowboys’ Ring of Honor


ARLINGTON, Texas — Thirty years after he last coached the team, Jimmy Johnson is being enshrined into the Dallas Cowboys’ Ring of Honor.

“I don’t think anybody can ever imagine what this means to me,” Johnson said. “This was a special time in my life. This was something that paid dividends for me the rest of my life. It was something that I’m extremely proud of. We took over the worst football team in the NFL. The worst. Three straight losing seasons … And not only did we win Super Bowls but we were able to put together the team of the ’90s. So obviously I’m very proud of it and proud to have my name up in the stadium.”

Johnson and Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones held a pre-induction news conference before Saturday’s kickoff between the Cowboys and Detroit Lions. Then, at halftime, Johnson became the 24th member of the organization to be honored.

Jones told the crowd that Johnson “inspired” him. Johnson was met on the field by many of his former players, sharing hugs with most of them before Emmitt Smith placed the navy blazer on the coach.

Johnson thanked Jones for bringing him to the Cowboys; his former players and assistants, with close to 50 on hand; his family; and the fans. He ended his speech the only way he knew possible, with a saying from the 1992 NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers.

“How ’bout them Cowboys?” he blared, much to the delight of the crowd of more than 90,000.

Johnson went 44-36 in five seasons with the Cowboys but helped engineer a turnaround from a 1-15 record in 1989, his first year, to back-to-back Super Bowl wins in 1992 and ’93. Now his name appears next to the five players he coached during that era who are also in the Ring of Honor: Michael Irvin, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Darren Woodson and Charles Haley.

“This is the rightful place for him,” Jones said in the news conference. “That says it all from my perspective.” Two months after the second Super Bowl win, however, Johnson and Jones had a falling-out that led to Johnson receiving a $2 million severance and Barry Switzer’s arrival as his replacement.

The relationship between Jones and Johnson, who won a national championship at Arkansas in 1964 as teammates, has been well chronicled over the years. Ego and credit were at the center of the breakup; however, Johnson interrupted a question Saturday intended for Jones about his willingness to give his coach credit.

“I think we’re past on who gets credit,” Johnson said. “The two of us working together made history. And when I say working together, we talked every single day. And I don’t ever recall — ever — us having a difference of opinion. I can’t ever remember that. We were always on the same page.”

Johnson’s wait for the Ring of Honor had become contentious among fans and even former players. Jones said at Johnson’s induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2020 that the coach would be added to the Ring of Honor. He just never said when.

“I will agree that somebody could’ve said, ‘Jerry, shouldn’t Jimmy have been in 15 years ago, 20 years ago?'” Jones said. “And you can say whatever you want about my reactions or frailties. I say this today — he’s there because it’s the right thing to do. He was always going into the Ring of Honor whether I put him in or my kids put him in.”

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