Note: This is the second of a two-part series detailing how and why Flozell Adams re-signed with the Dallas Cowboys. To read part one, click here.
Why wasn’t Adams in Dallas on Thursday’s free-agency deadline day? Why was he holed up at his offseason home in Chicago?
It’s a technique recognized by Stephen Jones, the team vice president who had learned much of his craft from former Cowboys executive Bob Ackles. Ackles was the pointman in contract negotiations in the early Jones Era, a bright, honest and well-liked figure who’d come up the hard way, a native Canadian who began his pro-football career as a towel boy in the CFL.
One of Ackles’ best nuggets: “Every time your side makes the phone call, it loses ground.’’ In other words, small concessions can be costly. Stephen knew that. Woy knew that. Had Adams hung around Valley Ranch this week, Cowboys management might have assumed – no, would have assumed -- a gaining-ground victory. “We got him. He’s here. He’s conceding.’’
But there was another travel plan – and while it was one that would have to be orchestrated by the player’s side, it was one that worked in management’s favor.
“You need to fly here now,’’ Woy continued in his cellphone conversation with his client. “And speaking of flying, you need to think about this: If we don’t get it done (today), you’ll be put in the position of getting on planes starting tomorrow, anyway. You’ll be doing a lot of traveling. And I’ll bet there is going to be cash put on the table. A lot of cash. … and you might have to say ‘yes.’ You might have to say ‘yes’ to a lot of money from a team that isn’t a winning team, in a city you don’t want to play in.’’
Jordan Woy is not only skilled at persuading NFL teams to do the right thing; he’s also very persuasive when it comes to guiding his clients. Woy lives in Las Colinas, about 10 minutes from the Cowboys’ headquarters, in a gorgeous home. But it is not a “mansion’’ and it is not pretentious and it is not “Hollywood’’ – it fits Woy himself, who is soft-spoken and understated and, essentially, the anti-Rosenhaus.
But Woy knows sports. And Woy knows agenting. Jordan was a nationally-ranked youth tennis player growing up in Irving, and is the son of Bucky Woy, one of the men who in the 1960’s essentially invented the sports-agent racquet. Jordan has the respect of everyone on all three sides of his business (athletes, teams, and other agents) and that, frankly, is why we suspected all along that Flozell Adams would remain a Cowboy.
“It’s touch-and-go,’’ Woy told Adams upon the player’s arrival at Valley Ranch.
But then came a “touch’’ decision and a “go’’ decision (and neither side knows exactly how the chips fell this way): Woy ended up in Stephen’s office, crunching numbers. That was the “go,’’ a significant let-s-get-serious gesture from both sides.
Meanwhile, the “touch’’ – Jerry’s style – led to Flozell ending up hanging out with Jerry, talking football. (You know how Jerry loooooves to talk football. And the demonstrative Jones touches you while he does it.)
The 11 p.m. deadline wasn’t looming yet, but dinnertime was. The negotiations were no longer “touch-and-go,’’ but they needed a push.
Jerry Jones received a phone call.
From a secret admirer of Flozell’s.
It was a phone call from Tony Romo.
The team’s all-important quarterback had heard “it was coming down to the wire.’’ During his brief conversation with Jones, he echoed the same words the owner had heard the night before from Jason Garrett.
“We need him. … We gotta have him. … Don’t lose him. …’’
A sidebar, if you will allow: Many mainstream reviews of the way the Cowboys do their business snidely suggest that Jerry Jones is an egomaniacal dictator who makes decisions unilaterally. He is, for sure, an easy target. But I’ve known the man and covered the man for 18 years. I know he doesn’t work that way, but I argue upstream. (Maybe this article will help the football fan have a deeper and less-clichéd understanding.)
What Jerry brought to this day was his passion for the game, his “fatherhood’’ for Flozell, his knowledge of what would fit under the cap according to the club’s long-term plans, and of course, the final say. But it was Stephen who handled the dirty stuff, and the numbers. (Eventually revealed to include $13 million to sign, guaranteed $1 million base salaries the next two years, and $22.5 million in salary in the first three years of the deal that totaled six years and $43 mil.) Also, everything was done with preparation and input from the scouting department and the coaching staff. And, notably, Jones’ total involvement with the club – “from jocks to socks,’’ remember? – includes an open-door policy that allows people like Jason Garrett and Tony Romo to voice their views and gain an audience.
And finally, just before it was done, coach Wade Phillips came down the hall from the coaching wing. You know, just to make sure. He was, in the words of somebody in the room, “Ecstatic.’’ Then the official announcement was sent to the PR department and went out at 5:41 p.m. At about the same time, Flozell was exiting Valley Ranch and was intercepted by the team’s website beat writer Nick Eatman.
“I’m just really happy to be here,’’ said the usually taciturn Adams, who was then asked if he was ever concerned he might have to leave.
“Nope, not at all,’’ said Flozell, fibbing only a little bit.
So the Cowboys wouldn’t have to scramble for a replacement for a Pro Bowler. Romo wouldn’t have to worry about a new someone to protect his blindside. The offense being overseen by Garrett and Adams’ new/old O-line coach Hudson Houck would not require re-tooling. The Joneses wouldn’t have to break the bank in a way that would handcuff them cap-wise in the future. Flozell himself wouldn’t have to prepare to fold that 6-7, 340-pound frame into a series of cross-country recruiting flights, and wouldn’t have to settle for toiling for a non-contender. Wade could remain “ecstatic’’ into perpetuity (not that he wouldn’t have already).
And Jordan Woy, the unlikely hero is all of this? Surely he capped a grueling Thursday marathon with a celebration of sorts?
“Nope,’’ he told me at 7:31 p.m., “I’m about dead with the flu. I’m going to bed.’’