Jerry Jones proved just how much a gamble can pay off.
On Feb. 25, 1989, he bought the Dallas Cowboys as they were in the midst of some tough times. He replaced franchise cornerstones Tom Landry and Tex Schramm with Jimmy Johnson and himself.
Led by Michael Irvin and first-overall pick Troy Aikman, Dallas stumbled out of the gate to a one-win season — but quickly got some help. An infusion of talent headlined by Emmitt Smith graced the Cowboys thanks to one of the NFL’s most brilliant trades ever. What holes they couldn’t patch through the draft they fixed elsewhere
Tight end Jay Novacek came over in free agency. And when San Francisco grew tired of his antics, Charles Haley joined Dallas via trade. Alongside Leon Lett and Russell Maryland, Haley helped turn the defense into a terror. Running the ball was made far easier behind the Great Wall of Dallas. Erik Williams further solidified a line led by Mark Tuinei and Nate Newton, which meant Smith was able to do as he pleased. As a bonus, he had Daryl Johnston, paving the way.
And in just the fourth season with Jones at the helm, the Cowboys put it all together. They blew out the Bills for the franchise’s first Lombardi Trophy since Super Bowl 12. A year later, they did it again, same opponent and all.
After a coaching change that we’ll get to later and an early exit thanks to the eventual champs, Jones showed he wasn’t content with just two Super Bowls. He brought in Deion Sanders, upgrading an already stout secondary led by Darren Woodson. And after a fourth straight season of at least 12-wins, Dallas won Jerry a third Super Bowl. He had turned the franchise around and put them in position to keep rolling.
But, about that ...