“I had to look up that word in the dictionary,” Johnson chuckled. “I don’t know that I’ve ever sniveled. Do you ever remember me sniveling? No way.”
The 79-year-old former Cowboys coach, who guided the Jones-owned team to two straight Super Bowl wins before their rift prompted his stunning departure in 1994, was responding to a question about comments made by Jones several days earlier. In an interview with Dallas-Fort Worth station KXAS-TV, Jones had been asked about the fact that he has not put Johnson in the team’s Ring of Honor — an apparent remnant of their decades-old feud that Jones was told came off as “ very petty” to many observers — despite bestowing that degree of franchise immortality upon several other prominent members of Dallas’s 1990s dynasty.
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“It’s BS for anybody to be making anything [of it]. I’ve said I’m going to put him in,” Jones replied then. “Now, when I put him in, and the circumstances and what I do with that, there’s a lot more than Jimmy to think about here. I’ve got a lot of other lives out here that have laid a lot on the line on the field that needs to be in that Ring of Honor, as well. And so how I do that, what I do it with, I get to make that decision.
“It isn’t, at the end of the day, all tailored around whether Jimmy is sniveling or not.”
Johnson’s subsequent appearance on Le Batard’s show came hours before the NFL’s annual Hall of Fame game and a year after the ex-coach enjoyed his own induction in Canton, Ohio. During a Fox Sports pregame show ahead of the Hall of Fame exhibition contest last August, Johnson and Jones sat together on a panel that included Hall of Famer and television personality Terry Bradshaw, who asked Jones when the Cowboys owner would give Johnson the long-awaited team enshrinement. Jones didn’t provide a specific date but confirmed that Johnson “will be in the Ring of Honor.”
“While I’m alive?” Johnson quipped.
On Thursday, Johnson referred to that exchange when asked if he thought Jones would put him in the Ring of Honor before he “passed away.”
“He’s told me a half-dozen times he’ll put me in,” Johnson said of Jones. “That’s why I said, ‘While I’m alive?’ You never can tell. That’s his decision.”
Noting that enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame was the “ultimate” honor he could receive, Johnson added, “I’m happy where I am. I don’t have any deep feelings, like, ‘Oh, I’ve gotta do this, I’ve gotta do that.’ ”
Amid his display of contentment and good humor over the flaring up of their long-running feud, though, Johnson couldn’t resist a jab at Jones’s well-known fondness for the spotlight.
“The only thing is, if he does it,” the ex-coach said of Jones finally putting him in the team’s Ring of Honor, “everybody’ll stop talking about it.”