Cowboys' Jones has issue with report
While Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones would not deny that the team is discussing the possible release of Terrell Owens, he has disputed an ESPN report that said his son was going to lobby his father to cut loose the receiver.
Jones, speaking to reporters late Saturday at a downtown hotel in Indianapolis, where the NFL combine is being held, expressed anger over the Jan. 14 report.
"That Stephen and I were debating about Terrell, that's just misinformation," Jones said regarding his son, Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones. "That's just not accurate. I don't know where that comes from. That's just total misinformation.
"And the thing is that nobody would know that except for me or Stephen, and I know Stephen didn't tell you. So whoever else said that happened is just wrong. It's just speculation, as far as us debating."
At least two sources told ESPN's Ed Werder that Stephen Jones would attempt to convince his father that Owens should be finished with the Cowboys. The Cowboys paid Owens a $12 million signing bonus just last year, included as part of a new four-year, $34 million deal.
"I think we all know that chemistry is the problem with this team more than the schemes or anything else," a Cowboys source told Werder. "Are we going to continue to allow talent to outweigh everything else in the decisions we make with players and putting the roster together?
"We're like the Redskins used to be when they signed every player they wanted. There's more to it than talent. It has to be more about the team."
The gist of the earlier ESPN report was that the Cowboys were considering releasing Owens. Jones did not dispute that on Saturday.
A picture of internal debate on the Cowboys regarding Owens was supported by a comment made by former NFL coach Dan Reeves. After failing to reach an agreement on a role with the Cowboys earlier this month, Reeves said: "I did find out while I was down there that there are a lot of mixed feelings about T.O. within the organization. They've got to sit down and make a decision."
Jones said Saturday that he's the only Cowboys official with a "full picture" of the team's operations.
"Where I'm coming from here, I just want to make sure you're not getting bits and pieces of information," he said. "That's not doing anybody any good and you're not making accurate reports."
In an effort to plug team leaks, Jones has put a gag order on all his employees, including head coach Wade Phillips, an unusual move he addressed.
Jones attempted to stifle any perception that Phillips has a diminished influence or role.
"It's well known that relative to our personnel decisions, who makes that decision," Jones said. "All I'm trying to say is basically that's where you need to go to see where the status of that decision is. That's where you need to go. That's what we're trying to avoid.
"What has happened this offseason, there's been a lot of misinformation. You guys aren't getting the accurate information at all."
According to Werder's sources last month, the discussions involving Owens had not been formally initiated and probably wouldn't occur until the Cowboys were more certain of the composition of their coaching staff.
Jason Garrett, once a candidate for at least two NFL head-coaching positions, remains with the Cowboys as offensive coordinator.
"You have to be worried about his influence over there, and I think we'd get some of those players back over to our side if he was gone,'' a source told Werder regarding Owens. "I think we have to decide how detrimental he is to [tight end Jason] Witten and [quarterback Tony] Romo.''
Jones went on and on Tuesday in Texas emphasizing he hasn't decided whether to keep or cut Owens.
Then, long after the subject was seemingly put to rest, Jones brought it up again -- with a pretty obvious hint that T.O. was staying.
"You and I both know that the one that you're asking about all the time, if I gave you the answer that you want to hear, then you would've already had it. So the fact you don't have it ought to tell you something. It really should," Jones said.
The response came in the final minute of a roughly 45-minute news conference called to announce that George Strait will headline the first-ever event at the team's new $1.1 billion stadium. But since it was the first time Jones addressed a large group of reporters since the Cowboys' season-ending loss at Philadelphia back in late December, far more topics came up.
The subject changed from music to football with a question about whether Owens will be on the roster when Strait takes the stage June 6. Jones was ready with the explanation that "we're evaluating our entire roster."
"There are several decisions on our roster we have to look at," Jones said Tuesday. "This is the time of year we do that. I'm not trying to be trite, but as you all know we're evaluating players in college, we're evaluating free agents and we're evaluating our own roster. This is an ongoing thing, not any different than this time last year. ... Our roster is our roster. Changes to that are pure, pure speculation."
When told he could end all speculation by saying Owens is staying, Jones said he wouldn't answer "because we're not talking about the roster; he's part of the roster."
"We've got a lot of things we want to look at. Not just to Terrell, but several positions on the team -- backup quarterback and some other areas," Jones said. "So, again, it's not that it's easy or hard. It's just that I'm not doing it."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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