The basketball Hall of Famer stopped by Tuesday’s practice -- as did former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda -- and knew all about the injuries the Cowboys have suffered, like the season-ending one to linebacker Sean Lee, and the precarious state of the defense.
He also took time to defend Tony Romo.
"What happens is he gets grief because everybody loves the Cowboys or you hate them, but you still watch them," Johnson said. "One thing about Tony I love is he’s a competitor, and he’s smart. The dude is smart. And so he’s an all-around athlete. I hope that people understand that he puts up 400 yards and then they give him all the grief. I mean he can’t play defense, you know? Yes, I’m always defending him. I’m upset when they criticize him because he plays great games, but they expect him to do everything. He’s one guy who controls the offense and, trust me, when everything comes together, they’ll have a great season. And I’m hoping everybody can stay healthy, because that’s another reason both teams struggle is because they get those injuries to key guys."
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett had Johnson address the Cowboys before practice and Lasorda address them after.
"He had some great words of wisdom," Romo said of Johnson. "He just has a way to connect with people. Any time someone like that speaks, you’re going to hang on every word, so it was really special and great to see him."
Romo liked what he heard from Lasorda as well.
"You can tell he’s got that passion, that emotion that you hear about," Romo said. "He kind of showed that off a little bit. It was great, too. He got into it, and I think that struck a chord with the guys."
Johnson addressed the Cowboys in 2008 as well. What did he say this time?
"I told them it takes a team to win a championship and win games, and everybody has got to play their role to a man," he said. "When somebody falls down or misses an assignment somebody’s got to be there to pick that guy up. It’s important that all 54 guys be on the same page or 50 whatever the number is, and that there’s no hidden agendas. Because what happens in sports when there’s hidden agendas, that’s when you lose. But if everybody can be on the same page, everybody can understand there’s one goal and that’s winning, then they have a chance. The thing about Dallas is they can score. They’re going to score points. If their defense can match their offense they’re going to have a great season."