Jimmy Johnson Hall of Fame Profile: 2020 Inductee

Jimmy Johnson had one of the most impressive five-year stretches of NFL coaching ever, landing him in the Hall of Fame and a great net worth.

Jimmy Johnson heads to the Hall of Fame before getting into the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor — judging by his television career and net worth, he’s probably not sweating things too much. Johnson only coached for nine NFL seasons but made enough of an impact to have his bust in Canton.

Jimmy Johnson’s Hall of Fame career

Johnson’s coaching career is similar to many. As the coaching universe goes, Johnson never stayed in one place for long. However, it’s not usually the coach’s decision to pack their bags and leave. It happens in college, but it’s rare a Super Bowl-winning coach leaves for a new job.

But that’s Johnson, and his departure from Dallas is part of his legacy and the lore surrounding him. He certainly doesn’t hold all the blame for leaving the Cowboys after their 1993 Super Bowl season. Jerry Jones admitted as much during his “State of the Cowboys” press conference from Oxnard, California.

Success and Johnson’s historic departure

Johnson’s Hall of Fame career is underwhelming when stacked up to many coaches in the illustrious group. However, if we want to recognize the greats in relation to fame, Johnson deserves to make the cut. Heck, he, at minimum, deserves to be in the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor.

He immediately turned around what was a flailing Cowboys franchise in the late 80s. After two straight losing seasons with legendary coach Tom Landry, Jones replaced him with the 46-year-old first-time NFL head coach.

Johnson had never necessarily been a true program builder in the past, but he had a knack for it at the professional level. It was his idea to trade Herschel Walker as part of a much-needed roster rebuild. They also nearly traded Michael Irvin, but Al Davis essentially told Jones and Johnson that would be a stupid idea. Irvin’s Hall of Fame career under Jones, Johnson, and the Cowboys is probably evidence Davis was right.

What went wrong with Johnson and Jones?

Never before, and never since, has a Super Bowl-winning coach left a team immediately following the win other than to retire. Johnson certainly did not retire. No, he’d had enough of Jones, and Jones’ ego couldn’t handle the credit Johnson received for the rebuild.

So, as the story goes, after the Walker trade that helped spawn the Cowboys’ epic rebuild into what became a dynasty, one drunken night ended it all. While in Orlando for the NFL owner’s meeting, there was a party at Universal Studios. Jerry felt slighted when he proposed a toast to the Super Bowl where Johnson and Co. didn’t respond accordingly.

Later, he drunkenly sat down with reporters and told them anybody could win with the Cowboys’ roster and that he considered firing Johnson for Barry Switzer. Word got back to Johnson, and that was the official cause for the divorce between the two.

Jimmy Johnson’s coaching record

Johnson’s fame comes partially from just how active he was constructing the Cowboys’ roster. Johnson made 51 trades in five seasons with the Cowboys, which he claims was a higher number than the rest of the league combined. The trade books are written about the Walker deal, but the trade for Charles Haley is what Johnson believes propelled the team over the hump.

Nobody has been an architect for an NFL roster the way Johnson was. Bill Belichick is the judge, jury, and executioner of the New England Patriots, but his style (and the league) is different from Johnson’s. The reason Belichick stuck is that Robert Kraft doesn’t or hasn’t wanted majority credit.

Johnson also made great coaching hires, even if they weren’t his first choice. Norv Turner flipped the offense from bottom third to top third with practically the same personnel from the previous season. Don Shula granting Johnson permission to hire back Dave Wannstedt allowed the championship defense to flourish.

Johnson was a program builder in Dallas. He was an architect. In a stretch from 1986-1988, they went 17-30. In Johnson’s first season, the Cowboys were a pathetic 1-15. However, they finished 7-9 in 1990, and by Year 3 were 11-5 and on their way to back-to-back Super Bowls in ’92 and ’93.

Johnson was only 80-64 for his coaching career, a mark that ties him with Brian Billick, who has one championship and is not in Hall of Fame consideration.

Career highlights

Johnson had a short career, but it certainly was not short of highlight moments. His career doesn’t just span the NFL, even if that’s all he’s judged on for the Hall of Fame.

Johnson and Jones were roommates at Arkansas when they traveled for games, but they weren’t necessarily buddies, as Johnson recalls. Jones was wealthy, and Johnson was on the other end of the spectrum. Johnson was on the defensive line, and Jones played on the offensive line.

Together, their 1964 Arkansas team was recognized as national champions. In an unnecessarily complicated process, Alabama was named the AP’s top team at the end of the season, as it was voted on before the bowl games.

Although more of the blame for the Jones-Johnson divorce falls with Jones, Johnson had his displays of pettiness. When he interviewed for the Arkansas job, Ken Hatfield had apparently already been hired. Johnson and Miami stomped Arkansas in Fayetteville, 51-7. It was the Razorbacks’ worst home loss in their history at the time.

In Miami, Johnson went 52-9 and elevated the team to the top of the polls at one point or another in four of his five seasons. Additionally, they won the 1987 National Championship. So, his winning pedigree started at the college level.

Johnson’s tenure with the Cowboys is legendary, but he actually had a higher win percentage with the Miami Dolphins. Still, the playoff success came with the Cowboys to the tune of back-to-back Super Bowls in 1992 and 1993. That, with the Walker trade, are the bold statements made in his Hall of Fame résumé.

Jimmy Johnson’s net worth

Although it’s not broadcast on the evening news, Johnson’s net worth appears to be somewhere between $40 million and $45 million. For over 20 years now, the former Super Bowl-winning head coach has been an analyst on Fox’s NFL show on Sundays.

Jimmy Johnson owns the aptly-named bar “Three Rings” in Miami. Johnson spends time in the Florida Keys fishing. For about 20 years, he spent time and money remodeling his home in Islamorada. He lives a quiet life now and rarely leaves his slice of heaven in the Keys. The home was battered during Hurricane Irma in 2017, but Johnson’s stubbornness and love for the home overcame the odds, as he did rebuilding the Dallas Cowboys.

Dalton Miller is the Lead NFL Analyst at Pro Football Network. You can read more of his work here and follow him @daltonbmiller on Twitter and Twitch.


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