IRVING, Texas – Back in the day American Express made famous the slogan, “Membership has its privileges.”
It was that iconic ad that popped into my head when I saw the picture of Tony Romo and Jason Witten in Jerry Jones’ suite at AT&T Stadium Monday night at the NCAA men’s basketball final with Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Running back DeMarco Murray was also in the suite, but not in the much-circulated photo.
I tweaked the ad some: status has its privileges.
New SEC Network hire and former Dallas Cowboys defensive end Marcus Spears sparked debate on Twitter Monday and it continued on Tuesday. Spears wondered if teammates of Romo and Witten would be upset to see them hanging with the presidents and celebrities.
Wonder if any other players get invited to these events off the cowboys team! Sends the wrong message to me pic.twitter.com/A2ZgZUsJgq— marcus spears (@mspear96) April 8, 2014
Spears has a point, but if Cam Lawrence or Ronald Leary were upset Romo, Witten and Murray were in the suite, oh well. Should I be upset Chris Berman gets to play in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am every year and I don't? Oh well.
Status has its privileges in any line of work. Those three have status, especially Witten and Romo, and we don’t know who else was invited to sit in the power suite to see Connecticut beat Kentucky but unable to attend for whatever reason.
Witten and Romo have been with the Cowboys since 2003. Witten has been to the Pro Bowl nine times. He was named the NFL’s Man of the Year in 2012. Romo owns most of the Cowboys’ passing records and has been to three Pro Bowls. Jones has showed his faith in the quarterback by signing him to two big-time contract extensions. Murray is coming off his first Pro Bowl season.
As teams go, not all players are created equally. Jimmy Johnson didn’t treat Troy Aikman the same as he treated a third-string safety. Bill Parcells treated “his guys” differently than the other guys.
Too many people believe professional sports are entirely different than an office you or I may work in. There is office politics everywhere.
You like some people. You’re OK with some people. You distance yourself from some people. You loathe some people. But you do your job for the common good, be it winning football games or producing widgets.
It can be safely assumed Witten, Romo and Murray were invited by Jones to the suite. He’s the boss. He’s the guy who signs the checks. You have a chance to talk with Presidents Bush and Clinton and some other celebrity folks, would you say no to your boss because the guy in the next cubicle didn’t get invited?
Of course you wouldn’t.
To me, the question is should Jones have put those three guys in position to be perceived as above their teammates in a public way? I doubt the question even crossed Jones’ mind and I’m not sure it even needed to cross it. He was simply making a kind gesture to three of his top players -- and maybe more -- and they took him up on the offer.
If there are players that are upset, then, well, they’ll just have to get over it. But they should also realize Witten, Romo, who is also rehabbing from back surgery, and Murray have been working out at Valley Ranch well before the official start of the offseason program on April 21.
That’s what should matter most to them.
Like just about everything with the Cowboys, perception overrules reality. The perception of the photo might tell one story, but it doesn’t mean it’s the whole story.