Our sports world changed forever 25 years ago. At, of all places, an Uptown Tex-Mex joint called Mia’s.
Walk in there today and you can sit in history. At the table against the wall where on Feb. 24, 1989, two Arkansas buddies celebrated a relatively significant purchase.
The photo still hangs on the wall: Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson, toasting their new careers with the Dallas Cowboys.
At the time I was a spry, snot-nosed little 24-year-old reporter, fresh out of UTA covering college football for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. I lived in an apartment complex on Randol Mill Road in Arlington, across the street from an empty field which would one day host AT&T Stadium. On February 25, 1989, I had no idea that my life – my sports world – was about to crumble.
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As a kid our family’s household happiness revolved around the Cowboys. I grew up a huge Tom Landry fan. His class and cool and championships provided me a sports role model. And then, just like that, he was fired by the goofy oil man from Arkansas.
On the afternoon of Feb. 25, 1989, I got a phone call from my FWS-T editor for "all hands on deck" at Valley Ranch, where Jones was introduced as the new owner of the Cowboys. At that press conference - dubbed by some as "The Saturday Night Massacre" - Jones announced he was firing Landry for Johnson.
I was crushed. I found myself writing quotes, and fighting tears. Afterward, I could think of nothing better to do than to drown my sorrow at the old Crystal Chandelier in DeSoto. It was a long, surreal night. Felt like a bad dream, punctuated by a horrible hangover.
People conveniently forget that it was time for the legendary Landry to go. The Cowboys sucked in his final years, going an abysmal 3-13 in 1988. But now, a quarter-century later, even Jones has regrets about how it all went down.
He told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine last weekend, “If I had a chance to do it over again I would've waited a year and just got my feet on the ground a little bit more and probably just gone with the staff that we had and then later made the ultimate change that I made.”
Jerry ultimately made peace with Landry, inducting him into the Ring of Honor. But there are those who still consider the first bullet point on Jones’ resume to read:
*Fired Tom Landry.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently writes a sports/guy stuff blog at DFWSportatorium.com and lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.