Commentary

Reminder for Jones: There are no rules

Cowboys owner has nobody to blame but himself now that the rules have changed

Updated: April 14, 2010, 9:54 PM ET
By Jim Reeves | ESPNDallas.com

Jerry Jones has no one to blame but himself. He knows it. We all know it.

He's read about how the Rangers' Josh Hamilton fell off the wagon with girls and whipped cream in Arizona last year, and he probably saw the pictures on the Internet. Nor was Jerry taking a nap when the Mavs' Josh Howard got caught on a cell-phone video dissing the national anthem awhile back.

Yep, Jerry knows the rules these days when it comes to appearing in a public place, with or without a cocktail in his hand.

[+] EnlargeJerry Jones
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesJerry Jones has gotten another abrupt lesson that, these days, there are no rules when it comes to appearing in a public place. Anybody at any given time or place -- especially celebrities -- is fair game to the immediacy of social media.

There are no rules.

So while I don't feel necessarily feel sorry for Jerry that he showed up in a fuzzy, voice-slurred video -- obviously caught on a cell phone in a bar someplace -- on Deadspin.com this week, entertaining fans as only Jerry can, the incident once again illustrates the changing times and the passing of an era that likely will never return again.

I'm reminded of the old "Seinfeld" episode in which an engaged George Costanza worries that if "relationship George" and "independent George" somehow come together, worlds will collide and "independent George" will cease to exist.

"A George divided against itself cannot stand," Costanza rants.

Jerry Jones finds himself facing the same conflict.

It is Jerry's nature to be gregarious, to seek the spotlight, to bask in the glow of attention and adoration from casual fans. He loves it and, if you've had a chance to view the brief video, you can see he's eating it up.

Much like Jerry Seinfeld told his friend George, I love that Jerry.

But will that Jerry cease to exist under the "no rules" parameters of being in public today?

No one is safe anywhere. Jerry goes to Mia's, drops salsa on his shirt and somebody's "tweeting" it somewhere. He shows up at a private benefit and it's on Facebook. He's in a bar, having a good time and maybe one too many, and somebody not only feels compelled to surreptitiously capture the loosey-goosey Jerry on his cell-phone video, he (or she) decides later to send it along to Deadspin so it goes worldwide on the Internet.

There is nowhere celebrities can hide today, not just from journalists or the paparazzi, but also from the casual fan. Besides, Jerry doesn't want to hide. He likes being at the center of the crowd, holding court, being … well … Jerry.

But this is the price he has to pay for being friendly, outgoing and playing his favorite role: king of the world.

Strangely, Jerry is actually able to be more relaxed in those situations with journalists than with normal fans.

Journalists, believe it or not, have a sense of ethics in these situations. We all -- owners, managers, coaches, players, reporters -- work together a lot, and there have to be boundaries or the situation simply becomes unworkable.

It was a different era when I was a beat writer covering the Texas Rangers in the '70s and early '80s. Beat writers traveled on the same planes as the teams they were covering, stayed in the same hotels, ate at the same restaurants and sometimes hung out at the same bars.

There was an unwritten code in those days. Bar conversations, unless specified otherwise, were all off the record. What happened in those saloons wasn't reported either, unless police reports were filed or there was an incident that could impact the performance of the team on the field or in the clubhouse. For instance, when almost-done Goose Gossage went off on then-manager Bobby Valentine in an Oakland hotel bar near the end of the 1991 season, the incident hit the papers because it impacted the team.

But there were no cell phones. Nobody was taking videos or pictures. No one was "tweeting" or "blogging" on their BlackBerrys or iPhones. There was no Deadspin or TMZ, ready to throw sleaze against the wall to see what might stick.

Don't get me wrong; I don't blame those people for what they do. They're just playing by the new guidelines: There are no rules.

In the media, we're still trying to figure it all out, trying to decide what's appropriate in this age of instant information and what's not. There was an incident late in spring training in Surprise, Ariz., a few weeks ago when general manager Jon Daniels was giving an update on something -- don't ask me what, I can't remember now -- when one of the team's regular beat guys took out his phone and began "tweeting" the news while the small group interview was in process. It broke up the interview, people got mad and the reporter later e-mailed apologies to everyone present.

This is uncharted territory for all of us, you see. And old warhorses like Jerry -- and like me, frankly -- might never make the adjustments we need to make to keep up.

But there's a trade-off involved here, too, and I'm not sure it's a good one.

Sure, we can get information out to the public faster than ever. But it comes so fast sometimes, there's no time to think about what's right or what's wrong, whether this is something the public really needs to know or if it's just our egos, trying to make sure it shows up on our blogs one minute before it pops up somewhere else. As if anyone out there is really paying attention.

We're losing the trust factor, and that can't be good.

I love the Jerry Jones who feels comfortable standing in a bar with a drink in his hand, regaling a few friends -- or maybe new friends -- with stories, giving some thrilled stranger an inside look at the thought processes of the owner of the Dallas Cowboys.

That's one of the unique and wonderful things about him.

I just wonder how much longer that Jerry is going to be around.

Jim Reeves, a former columnist with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, is a regular contributor to ESPNDallas.com.

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