"Do the remarks bother me?" he says. "Yes, of course they do. I'm human. The owner? Well, maybe it's a reaction to all the other bad things that have happened to him, the economy around here, for instance. It's just been devastating, just like our season has been devastating. A quarterback with a bad wrist [Danny White]; an offensive line that keeps getting banged up; our best wide receiver [Mike Sherrard] broke his leg in the preseason. Sure, the owner is upset.
"Tex? Well, I can't say what's in his mind. He's an emotional type of guy. Tex and I have been together a long time. We don't communicate about the day-to-day running of the team, but for 28 years, we've been compatible.
"As far as their digging a tunnel under me, running in their own coaches and all, that's simply not true. I have final say on all members of the staff and everything to do with football. I always will. No, I don't feel they're trying to undermine me, but I can't speak for every member of the organization. I know where we are now and I know where we're going and that it's going to take time to get there. That's why I asked for a three-year contract."
So what is wrong with the Cowboys? Roger Staubach says, "It's a team of whiners, of guys who play to their weaknesses instead of forgetting about them and playing to their strengths. You could see that in the poll that was taken a few years ago, when players were asked which quarterback they preferred. White or Gary Hogeboom, and they chose Hogeboom. If I'd been [White], I'd have gotten in the locker room and confronted every one of those guys.
"Instead of leadership, they had a bunch of people making excuses, and that's still the mood around there. And when you have that, you don't have a team."
Tony Dorsett, one of the Cowboys' greatest stars ever, sits on the bench and mopes. "You going to come to the Redskins game and watch my two or three plays?" he says to a visitor. The other players say Dorsett still has all his moves, but the Cowboy running game has changed. The quick traps designed for Dorsett, behind a mobile line, have been replaced by the raw power and speed of Walker working behind the blocking of a front wall that at times averages 294 pounds tackle to tackle, heaviest in the NFL.
"A man over 300 pounds, carrying 40 pounds of fat, well, to me he's not a football player," Jordan says. "It's very clear to me where the problem is. Tom's as good a coach as he always has been. He just doesn't have the personnel. To me the scouting department is the poorest part of the Cowboys' organization."
That was painfully obvious in Sunday's 24-20 loss to the Redskins, a defeat that dropped Dallas to 5-8 and guaranteed the Cowboys their second straight losing season. It wasn't a question of play-calling or heart or toughness. In fact, the Cowboys have played the hard, physical teams tough this year—two wins over the Giants, an overtime loss to the Vikings, this game against the Skins. The weak teams are the ones that have seen Dallas's lesser efforts: Remember Atlanta and Detroit? That's the sign of an inconsistent team, not a doggy one.
The Redskins beat the Cowboys on four plays—three long passes and a fumble return. It figured to be a heavy running day, because Dallas's first two middle linebackers (Eugene Lockhart and Steve DeOssie) were out and the job was in the hands of Ron Burton, a free-agent rookie. But Washington running back George Rogers could gain only 64 yards on 27 carries. The Redskins were ready to be taken, but no one was there to do the taking for the Cowboys.
Dallas couldn't put the heat on quarterback Jay Schroeder. The Cowboy blitzes were picked up. Every so often, Schroeder would hit a receiver on a deep crossing pattern, and that's all Washington needed. Bombs of 46, 56 and 47 yards produced or set up three of the four Redskins' scores. The Dallas safeties were run-conscious, which left their cornerbacks in single coverage, and Schroeder had the time to make the most of that.