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Landry Firing Is Still Haunting Jerry Jones


DALLAS — Jerry Jones must be seeing Tom Landry in his sleep.

See Tom announcing a book deal. See Tom on television trying to imitate Willie Nelson. See Tom in the Professional Football Hall of Fame.

Jones fired Landry, paid him $1 million severance, and martyred him to kingdom come.

The new owner of the Dallas Cowboys has apologized until he is Cowboys blue in the face, but Landry keeps coming back to haunt Jones.

Landry isn't going to let up on the shabby treatment he felt he received. And Jones is going to have to lump it until he can live with it.

At every opportunity Landry reminds one and all that Jones should have handled things better. It's an offense against which Jones has no defense. The majority of the American sporting public and sporting press agrees. You don't gut-shoot a legend.

Jones can't get away from Landry.

If he watches television, Landry will be there with his new singing commercial: "Momma, don't let your babies grow up to be Redskins . . . You didn't think I was going to say Cowboys, did you?"

Landry pops up out of a suitcase in the Quality Inn commercial and gives his best imitation of Nelson, who made the song a big hit years ago.

"They had to give me voice lessons, if you can believe that," Landry said. "My voice was too high and they had to get it down lower. I had to have me a coach to learn how to do that. They kept calling and calling so I decided to do it."

If you'll notice in the commercial, Landry isn't actually playing the guitar. There wasn't enough time to teach Tom to pick like Willie.

It's a smash commercial for which Quality Inn will be paying $700,000 each for 30-second spots during Super Bowl XXIV between Denver and San Francisco.

"It was a fun thing to do," Landry said. "I'd sung in church a few times, but that didn't exactly prepare me for a commercial."

Landry will be paid handsomely for the advertisement. It will run six figures by the time the residuals are registered.

The last time Landry did a commercial, it was the American Express cutie in which he survived a saloon jammed with Washington Redskins. He got $50,000 and residuals that went over the moon.

Landry, by the way, won't be attending the Super Bowl in New Orleans, although he has wonderful memories of the place. He won his two Super Bowl rings there.

He'll be at the Hills of Lakeway in Austin, Tex., playing golf. Landry was on the Jack Nicklaus course at the Hills when he was told Jones was coming to announce Landry had been fired on Feb. 25 last year.

Besides an occasional birdie, Landry will be celebrating some more big news in his career.

Saturday, he was elected to the Professional Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

"It's an honor just to be nominated," he said. "It shows they haven't forgotten me."

A fact Jones has been reminded of every day since February.

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