The League

Gene Wang
Fantasy Guru

Gene Wang

A sports staff writer at The Washington Post

Dont' Forget About JJ


Dallas Cowboys haters, plug your ears. Jimmy Johnson was the brains behind perhaps the greatest turnaround in NFL history, and that's why he's the most coveted retired coach.

In Johnson's first season in 1989, the Cowboys finished 1-15 and were the laughing stock of the NFL. The once mighty franchise had become irrelevant except as the butt of jokes and Dallas dissenters celebrated the Cowboys' comeuppance for decades of arrogance and entitlement.

Johnson paid no mind to his detractors, however, and pulled off one of the most significant trades in league history when he sent Herschel Walker to Minnesota for a bounty of draft picks. Two of those picks resulted in Dallas being able to draft Emmitt Smith and Darren Woodson.

Three years later Dallas was Super Bowl champion, dominating Buffalo, 52-17. The Cowboys won the Super Bowl the following season and another two years after that, albeit with Barry Switzer as coach. The Cowboys, at the time, were the only team to have won three Super Bowls in four seasons.

When Johnson came back to the NFL as coach of Miami, he was saddled with an impossible situation. Dan Marino was in the twilight of his career, but he was the greatest player in franchise history, so Johnson had to stick with him, despite eroding skills. If Johnson had been allowed to proceed without Marino, who knows if he could have led Miami back to the Super Bowl.

Regardless, Johnson's legacy is worthy of the Hall of Fame. He'll be enshired in Canton eventually, and he'll enter with more Super Bowl rings than contemporaries Bill Cowher or Mike Holmgren. If we credit him with another championship for Super Bowl XXX, Johnson would have more rings than another retired-for-now contemporary, Mike Shanahan.

No doubt Johnson has had opportunities since he left coaching, but he seems content in front of the camera as a Fox studio analyst. Don't expect him to come back to the sideline anytime soon, if at all.

By Gene Wang  |  May 13, 2009; 11:40 AM ET  | Category:  Coaching , Dallas Cowboys , Gene Wang Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Jimmy Johnson would have to be nuts to coach again. He's got a great, relaxed broadcasting gig -- one that has an actual offseason. From February to August, he can fish and drink with his buddies. He has zero risk of getting fired, appears to be having a blast with his studio cohorts, and is doubtless making a nice buck. Why coach prima donna players for some prima donna owner and grow old fast -- especially for someone like Snyder, whom Johnson would probably rather smack upside the head for trashing a great franchise?

Posted by: salescoach | May 14, 2009 6:48 PM

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