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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Dallas Coach Retires, Cites Burnout

DALLAS, Texas -- They were partners in success, but rivals when it came to taking the credit. Amazingly, the state of Texas, big as it might be, isn't big enough for both Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson.


That was the conclusion the two leaders of the Dallas Cowboys reached after two days of face-to-face discussions that ended Tuesday with Johnson stepping down as the Cowboys head coach after winning back-to-back Super Bowls.


The stunning announcement was made during a packed new conference at Valley Ranch where Jones and Johnson shared smiles, handshakes and hugs that belied the growing rift between the two that forced them to sit down and discuss their differences.


Both called their separation a "mutual agreement," with Johnson adding that after five years at Oklahoma State, five years at the University of Miami and five years with the Cowboys, he lacked the desire necessary to pursue an unprecedented third straight Super Bowl victory.


"I felt I needed to pull back some," Johnson said. "Anybody who knows me knows I have to go 100 percent totally focused, totally into it, or else I'm not going to be as good as I need to be. I think Jerry was starting to understand that I was starting to lose that focus. And when I looked at myself I knew I was starting to lose that focus. That's why I think it's in the best interest of the Dallas Cowboys that I'm no longer the head coach."


The "mutual agreement" includes an undisclosed financial settlement that Jones described as "a big-time thank you." Johnson, who was in the sixth year of 10-year contract worth $1 million annually, is free to coach another team, but has no plans to seek a job for the 1994 season.


"This year, I don't anticipate doing a whole lot," Johnson said. "I don't know what I'm going to do. But because of knowing my drive there's a possibility I'll go back into coaching in the future."


Johnson is known to want to return to South Florida. That could become possible if Don Shula, the NFL's winningest coach ever, retires when his contract with the Dolphins expires after the season.


Jones did not want to discuss his thoughts on a successor at the news conference although unsubstantiated reports said that he hired former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer late Tuesday night to take over the team. But Tuesday he wanted the spotlight on Johnson and their salvaged friendship.


"We're not going to talk about that," Jones said when asked about his search for a new coach. "We're here to talk about the guy to my right (Johnson) and everything he has meant to the Cowboys."


Johnson's revelation of burnout took some heat off Jones, who is as popular in Dallas today as he was on Feb. 25, 1989, when he bought the Cowboys for $140 million and fired Tom Landry. Jones has been portrayed as a publicity-hungry owner who was envious of the praise Johnson received for the success of the Cowboys and wanted more input into the football decisions.


Johnson spent much of the press conference defending Jones, calling him a friend and praising his contributions to the Cowboys' rise from a 1-15 record in 1989 to Super Bowl champions after the 1992 and 1993 seasons. "We were able to accomplish those things because of our relationship," Johnson said. "It was a matter of making decisions together and we made those decisions together. I appreciate what he has done for me."


Johnson, 50, does not plan to meet with his players, although he spoke with quarterback Troy Aikman and wide receiver Michael Irvin.


"I've got such a close relationship with some of the players I don't want to talk to them at this time because I don't want it to be an emotional thing," Johnson said. "They understand how I feel and they understand I expect them to go out and win a third Super Bowl."


The conflicts between Jones and Johnson peaked during the owners meeting last week in Orlando when Jones threatened to fire Johnson and said 500 other coaches could have led the Cowboys to the Super Bowl. After learning of Jones' remarks, an angry Johnson left the meetings and two days later hung up on Jones when the Cowboys owner called to clear the air.


Johnson hoped Cowboys fans would not turn on Jones and the organization. "More than being negative and complaining, we should appreciate what has happened the last five years and where the Dallas Cowboys are today," he said. "They're still the finest team in the NFL. So let's be positive about it."