Jimmie Johnson is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the Class of 2020.
With recent honors to Johnson's name, some have wondered if the former Cowboys coach even cares whether he's inducted into the team's Ring of Honor. He did and is doing so.
Johnson will take his long-awaited “rightful place,” as Jerry Jones himself said, on the front of AT&T Stadium next to Darren Woodson at halftime of Saturday night's game between the Cowboys and Lions.
“I don't think anyone could imagine what this means to me,” Johnson said in a pre-match press conference. “This was a special time in my life. This was something that paid off for me for the rest of my life. It's something I'm very proud of. We dominated the worst football team in the NFL. The worst. Three straight losing seasons and a 3-13 record [in 1988]. Not only did we win Super Bowls, we made the team of the 1990s. So, obviously I'm very proud of that, and I'll be proud to put my name up on this field.
Jones was harshly and rightfully criticized for waiting so long to put Johnson in the team's Ring of Honor, but the Cowboys owner said it was always a matter of when, not if.
Jones said that former team president Tex Schramm, who is in Ring of Honor himself, told Jones after Jones bought the team that Ring of Honor should be exclusive. Johnson will become the 24th member of Ring of Honor, and the fourth non-player.
“What he wanted was to be someone who made a serious impact on the franchise, not necessarily a win-loss record; [but left a mark on] Jones said. “It turns out there's only one other coach, which is Tom Landry of course, and there's actually only three today who aren't players. The point is: Jimmy is that, and he's made that kind of difference in the franchise. Obviously he's a great coach and a great team manager, and so I think all this is reflected in many respects with [Pro Football] hall of fame. Jimmy, you are now, forever, and truly in the Cowboys' Ring of Honor.
Johnson won back-to-back Super Bowls in 1992 and 1993 during his five-year tenure with the Cowboys. The relationship, which dates back to the men's days playing together at Arkansas, had a controversial end before the 1994 season.
Bitterness simmered for years before Cowboys executive vice president Charlotte Jones and daughter of Jerry and Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman helped facilitate a two-hour meeting between Johnson and Jones at The Star in October.
On November 19, Jones announced before Dallas' game against the Panthers in Charlotte that Johnson would be inducted into the Ring of Honor on December 30.
The two spoke like old friends again on Saturday, brought together by what they had accomplished, not the reasons behind their separation.
“I think we're past who gets the credit,” Johnson said, interrupting Jones. “The two of us, working together, made history. When I say working together, we talked every day. I don't remember ever – ever – having a difference of opinion. I can't remember any argument ever. We were always on the same page. So, “The credit has to go to a lot of people — Jerry, Jimmy, a bunch of assistant coaches, great players. . . . so a lot of people get the credit.”
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