Though Jones said at one point that "the Cowboys will win Super Bowls without him," Jones counted on Johnson's making it through the season and never seriously considered that he might resign. Jones does keep a short mental list of replacements, just in case "Jimmy got hit by a bus, God forbid." But, said Jones, "he knows what a great situation he has here." In fact, the Bear-game clash ended in hugs, said Jones.
True, Jimmy? "I guess it will be O.K. for another couple of days," Johnson said at the time. "But I honestly don't know if I'll last five or six more years here or five or six more days."
About three weeks after the Super Bowl, Jones announced that he was giving Johnson a raise, to more than $1 million annually, making Johnson one of the league's five highest-paid coaches.
"I am ecstatic," said Johnson.
All the assistants were given small raises, except for Turner, who received a hefty increase. Turner was also called in personally by Jones, who told him how much he was appreciated. A team source says, "You just wish Jerry would do things like that without being backed into a corner first. That's the way he always is with players—he pays them as little as possible until he has to pay them or lose them." Soon after the raises were announced, Jones raised ticket prices.
Jones had said in 1992 that he would sign all his holdouts before the season opener, and he did. He had said he would acquire a pass rusher and a safety, and he did. He had said he would win with a budget, and he did. When players and assistants thought that Johnson had flown apart emotionally, Jones was the most optimistic that Johnson would pull himself together. And he did. Jones said that Johnson would create positive we'll-show-Jimmy tension among the players. And, by instinct or accident or a little of both, Johnson did.
Perhaps unwittingly, Jones created the I'll-show-Jerry tension for Johnson. Yet Jones's ego did not require that he constantly put Johnson in his place and risk killing the coach's spirit. Jones stood up to Johnson; he left no doubt about who was the boss. He refused to let Johnson take over the franchise. But Jones took more than his share of guff from his hotheaded coach, and at critical times he was remarkably patient and supportive.
Jones did not give Johnson an unlimited budget or complete control of trading or drafting. But Jones let Jimmy be Jimmy. He gave Johnson more room to flex and flaunt his talent than a lot of owners probably would have, because Johnson had something Jones wanted: the ability to coach a Super Bowl winner.
At the same time, Jones had something Johnson needed: the antidote to his poisonous moods, the illogical optimism to counter Johnson's skepticism. Johnson would never, ever admit this, but general manager Jones complemented the coach with sound trading and negotiating and excellent instincts for roster moves. Johnson will probably never give Jones any credit for his football acumen, but will Johnson ever get mad enough to quit?
Assistants and insiders doubt that the JJ's will last much longer than another season—unless they win a second straight Super Bowl. Yet where would Johnson find a better situation than he has now? His will to win is matched only by Jones's. Both men inspire and ignite everyone around them. Johnson does it with the players and the coaches, Jones with the front office and the fans.