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SUPER BOWL XXVII : Cowboys Happily Rub It In : The Traditional Victory Dousing Takes on a Special Meaning for Johnson

February 01, 1993|TIM KAWAKAMI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

At the end, as he wrapped his first Super Bowl title tightly into his arms, Jimmy Johnson's command of the sideline came undone.

His hair, a natural phenomenon now considered sacred in most parts of Texas, went everywhere as Emmitt Smith and the rest of the victorious Dallas Cowboys transformed him into something that looked like a member of the hedgehog family.

For the Cowboys, this was the ultimate celebration of the ultimate victory--on the head of the ultimate competitor.

"We said, 'Hey, when it's two minutes left, we're going to get his hair this time, make sure the whole world sees it messed up for a change,' " defensive tackle Russell Maryland said.

"It's hard, it's hard to mess up his hair. But he deserves a good dousing. He got one at the University of Miami, and he deserves one now."

Said guard Nate Newton: "It means a jug of water over the head. It means letting your hair down, baby. It means taking the spray out (of Johnson's hairdo) and letting it fly, baby."

Maryland and the rest of the Cowboys knew that even for a man as driven as their coach, winning the Super Bowl means something.

He won it like he always wins games--gambling on fourth down, getting his players to cause havoc on defense and watching his quarterback play brilliantly.

After only four years, Johnson and the Cowboys put a 52-17 period to end their brilliant climb from the bottom Sunday night.

After all the trades and the 1-15 record in 1989 and the unfavorable comparisons to Tom Landry and the 20-hour days and the seven-day weeks and the 50-week years, Jimmy Johnson has taken hold of the prize he has lived his life to attain.

So when several players dumped a Gatorade bucket of ice water on his head, and when Smith came over to ruffle his hair, Johnson laughed along with the rest of them.

"It was all right for them to have some fun," Johnson said. "It was the last game of the year. . . . They knew better than to do it two weeks ago."

The man whose mania for control extends to all facets of his life laughed and hugged everybody--then got a quick restyling by Owner Jerry Jones, who came to his aid with a comb.

"Hair comber? I'll take that title," Jones said. "As long as we're doing it in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl we've won, I'll do it every time."

Jones whispered in Johnson's ear as they walked off the field.

"I told him, it feels great to be the best in the world," Jones said.

After the game, Johnson didn't really want to get into what this all meant to him, saying only that it was "a notch better" than his national championship with the University of Miami in 1987.

For a man so open about his near-obsession with winning games and confident about his own eventual success, Johnson was a bit demure in victory.

Finally, he could afford to be.

"I'm a little bit uneasy about dealing with my private life," Johnson said. "Not that there's anything wrong with what I do, it's sometimes . . . maybe people might not agree with certain things.

"And I'm not asking for agreement, I'm not saying anybody should be this way. I'm just saying this is the way I am. I don't want anybody to be offended by the things I do."

But however quietly Johnson accepted it, everybody involved with the Cowboys knew how powerful a moment it was for him.

"He's given more of himself than you could ever ask, than I could ever ask," Jones said. "And he's got to be gratified."

Said offensive line coach Tony Wise: "To have done what he's done in such a short time. . . . The team is a lot of him, you know?

"He deserves it. He really deserves it. He's so stressful in what he does, it's nice to be able to see him kick back and say, 'hey, all the things we practiced, we did.' "

Johnson, for his part, said he would take his celebration to the beach for a while. But he immediately said he had to start thinking about mapping out the off-season, planning for free-agency and the draft. This was the last game Johnson and his staff coached together--Dave Wannstedt, his best friend and defensive coordinator, is leaving to take over the Chicago Bears, and probably will take Wise with him.

Johnson has conceded that it is difficult to see Wannstedt go, and even after the Super Bowl talked about the departure and about one last morning with his friend.

"The emotions, that went a couple of weeks ago," Johnson said. "In fact, I went back to jogging with him again this morning. We had a 30-minute jog, talking, cutting-up just like the old days, even though it won't be that way again, at least not on the football field."

The emotions of victory were very much alive as the clock ticked down Sunday night.

Johnson allowed himself to be grabbed in a bear hug by wide receiver Michael Irvin, who then turned his former college coach into the ice-water dousing.

Emotionally, Jimmy Johnson's Bad Hair Moment became the moment of the night.

"He's real intense and he's real focused," Newton said. "But we knew when to mess with the man."

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