December 09, 2008
Was Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones really questioning RB Marion Barber's toughness on Sunday? Or was this a moment where Jones crossed up his message by simply talking too much, something Jones has done on more than a few occasions?
I was actually listening to Jones when the discussion of Barber's absence against Pittsburgh took place, and the controversy that has sprung from Jones' comments seems like a bit of a stretch. While Jones was disappointed with Dallas' loss, he wasn't exactly fuming. In fact, Jones was mostly trying to put a positive spin on the defeat, talking about how if the Cowboys continued to play that well on the road, they would win more often than not.
When the conversation turned to Barber (seen leaving the field during Dallas' Thanksgiving Day game against Seattle), Jones said he was more surprised that Barber didn't play. In short, Jones seemed to convey that Barber's combination of toe injury and strained calf shouldn't be enough to keep him out the rest of the season.
Again, that's how it sounded. How it reads is a different matter as Jones certainly opened the door to read it another way when he said: "He can play with that injured toe. He can play with the soreness and a combination of those things. I see nothing that led us to believe he couldn't."
Several people, including coach Wade Phillips, have said that Jones was not questioning the toughness of Barber, a player who has been advised by many people to calm his physical running style.
"Marion is the last player Jerry would question like that," an assistant coach said.
That said, Jones has at times tried to send messages to people via reporters. The most famous was during the 1994 offseason when he took shots at then-Dallas coach Jimmy Johnson. That led to Johnson leaving the Cowboys and Jones replacing him with Barry Switzer, who led Dallas to one more Super Bowl win with, by and large, the players Johnson picked.
Jones is expected to speak directly with Barber about the issue. Whether it becomes a lingering problem between them remains to be seen.
Just don't expect the media to let go of it anytime soon.
Photo courtesy of US Presswire
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