Leave it to Jerry Jones to make headlines before the football is ever set on the tee. Jerry announcing Jimmy Johnson will be inducted into the Ring of Honor – an announcement long overdue in the minds of most Cowboys fans – would steal the limelight from Dallas’ eighth win of the season.
Right under our noses: The timing of Jones inducting Johnson into the Cowboys Ring of Honor was a surprise. Having Jimmy fly to North Carolina for a Sunday Cowboys-Panthers game instead of flying to California for his normal spot on the set of FOX’s pregame show was a curveball. And, yes, Jimmy and Jerry hanging out together on the Cowboys’ sideline during pregame warmups for about 45 minutes created a real buzz. The official announcement would air 15 minutes before kickoff.
But nobody, especially anyone who has visited The Star in Frisco, should be surprised that Jimmy’s entering The Ring. It was always a matter of when, not if.
The clue has been in plain sight for the past couple of years in the lobby at the team’s headquarters. In fact, all the media who attend press conferences literally tread over the evidence.
The atrium of The Star in Frisco boasts the Cowboys’ five Super Bowl trophies, as well as replicas of the Super Bowl rings of Super Bowl MVPs Roger Staubach, Randy White, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Larry Brown. But as you walk across the floor to get to the displays, the lobby also pays tribute to Ring of Honor members. The members’ names are in name plates on the white marble floor.
DeMarcus Ware’s name is a recent addition.
But whose name has been in the floor of the atrium the past couple of years? Jimmy Johnson. In fact, his name is closest to the door that takes media into the press conference room.
Because Jimmy’s nameplate is the first one on the right as guests enter the atrium, it’s possible people may look past it because they are dazzled by the beautiful, twinkling overhead light display, or maybe they’re gazing toward the Lombardi Trophies.
But the clue has been under our noses (and our toes) the whole time. I guess you could argue that all along Jimmy’s induction has been set in stone.
Jerry-Jimmy interview: Our weekly Jerry Jones “Owner’s Box” interview for the Cowboys Radio pregame show takes place 30 minutes before kickoff. Jimmy joined Jerry and me for our interview live from the sideline this week.
Because the official Ring of Honor announcement was taking place 15 minutes before kickoff on FOX, we could only tease that a special announcement was coming. But Jimmy was gracious enough to share his thoughts on Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb and other football matters; he and Jerry also reminisced on a Troy Aikman story.
Speaking of Troy, Jimmy’s induction will talk place on Dec. 30 at halftime of the Cowboys-Lions game. It’s a Saturday night game that will be broadcast by ABC and ESPN, so Troy, an ESPN broadcaster, will be on hand to help induct his former coach into the Ring.
Owning the crowd: Sunday was a takeover of Bank of America Stadium by Cowboys fans. The tailgating in Uptown Charlotte was dominated by Cowboys fans with their tents and tarps. The merchandise being sold on street corners by vendors near the tailgating was Cowboys gear. In the lower seating level, especially behind the visitors’ bench, it looked like 70-to-80% of the fans were dressed in Cowboys jerseys and shirts.
A lot of Panthers season ticket holders must have made good scratch from this game, selling their tickets to Cowboys fans. Resale tickets online at SeatGeek were going for $187 and up for the upper corner of the end zones and $220 and up for upper endzone. It was $300 and up for lower-level endzone.
During practice last week, Panthers head coach Frank Reich admitted his offense practiced the silent count in anticipation of a large contingent of Cowboys fans. Bryce Young and the Panthers offense relied on the silent count throughout the game beginning with their first drive.
Micah’s upchuck: Two of Micah Parsons’ 2.5 sacks on Sunday occurred in the first half. That was pretty impressive considering he spent the early part of the first half vomiting on the sideline. He didn’t appear to be sick in pregame warmups and I had not heard of anyone battling the flu or a stomach bug, so maybe he just had an upset stomach (I didn’t want to get close enough to the evidence for forensic study). He appeared to be fine as the first half wore on.
Postgame, Micah explained that he, for the first time, ingested C4, marketed on its website as an energy powder.
“As soon as I took it, I was like, ‘This is strong.’ I got some water to help put it down,” said Micah. “By the fifth play my heart felt like it was about to jump out of my chest. … Eventually I just started throwing up.”
Um, yeah. Good plan. Let’s not try that again.
Tale of two pass rushes: While Micah and the Cowboys defense earn kudos for their seven sacks, the Cowboys pass protection deserves an equal ovation for not allowing a sack of Prescott or Cooper Rush. The offensive line has played its five usual starters for three straight games including Sunday; they have not allowed a sack in back-to-back games (85 combined pass attempts).
On the other hand, Young was under serious duress the entire game. And while everyone remarks on his size (or lack thereof), I admit that he’s the smallest quarterback I’ve seen at field level in 25 seasons on an NFL sideline. Young is listed at 5-10, 204 pounds. Maybe standing on a speedbump … while soaking wet ... with rocks in his pocket.
Sure, we’ve seen short QBs (Kyler Murray: 5-10, 207 pounds), but Young looks more slightly built. Young is built more like Brandin Cooks and KaVontae Turpin than Murray or other shorter players like Deuce Vaughn, who have thicker legs.
Everyone I spoke to on the sideline who got their first in-person look at Young said something similar: “Gosh, he looks smaller in person.”
But you could also see that Young has the accuracy and the touch to be successful in this league. Dan Quinn told me pregame that Young is “creative” as well as accurate. If the Panthers can build an O-line for him, and get someone in addition to Adam Thielen who can catch a pass, Young could have real success.
Good news on injury front: It was relatively quiet on the Cowboy sideline in regards to injury reports. Only two Cowboys entered the blue medical tent for short evaluations. Chauncey Golston underwent a cognitive evaluation in the second quarter, but was cleared to return and finished with 12 snaps (and 0.5 sacks) on defense and 12 snaps on special teams.
Backup safety and special teams ace Juanyeh Thomas had his left knee evaluated late in the fourth quarter after he hit hard on the turf when landing awkwardly on kickoff coverage. Although Thomas didn’t return to action because it was so late in the game, he appeared to be cleared for a return, if needed.
Safety Donovan Wilson didn’t enter the blue tent, but the medical staff looked at his right arm/wrist in the second quarter after a friendly-fire collision with teammate Stephon Gilmore. Wilson returned without missing any snaps and, in the fourth quarter, made a big play on a sack, fumble recovery which set up the final Cowboys score of the game.
Coming through the game cleanly in regards to injury is particularly important this week with the short turnaround for Thanksgiving.
The Commanders and Cowboys kick off at 3:25 p.m. on Thursday with Dolly Parton performing at halftime for The Salvation Army Red Kettle Kickoff. The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders will perform alongside Dolly.
Kristi Scales is the sideline reporter for the Dallas Cowboys Radio Network. She writes this column for The Dallas Morning News after each Cowboys game.