Too Tall Jones: Lockout won't affect '11 schedule

CONCORD, N.C. -- During a legendary 15-year career with the Dallas Cowboys, Ed “Too Tall” Jones endured three strikes, and feels certain league owners and the NFL Players Union will find a compromise to the current work stoppage before it affects the 2011 schedule.

Why? Money, he said. There’s too much to be made by too many people for it to drag on.

“I don’t like it. It’s not good for anybody. It’s not good for the players. It’s not good for the owners. And it’s certainly not good for the fans,” said Jones, on-hand Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway to help track president Marcus Smith unveil the world’s largest television on the track’s backstretch.

“Because it always gets done,” Jones continued. “I went through three [strikes], and the money we were negotiating on is totally different from what it is today. So I know if we could cut a deal, and they’re playing with $9 billion, here? We will see football.”

Jones was the first overall selection in the 1974 draft and played until 1989, making him one of just three individuals to spend at least 15 seasons in a Cowboys uniform. He walked away from the game in excellent health. But many of his brethren weren’t so fortunate.

As a result he sides with the players now, based on the sustained beating they take during competition.

“I’m a former player, and what we put ourselves through, week-in and week-out, and our careers are so short-lived,” Jones said. “And I’m an exception. If you told me when I left Tennessee State in 1974, I’d play 15 years and never miss a game, I would have said you were on something very illegal.

“But the average player (career) is still four years. So I think players deserve everything, and then some, that they get.”

Jones became a cult hero both for his massive stature and for a menacing, aggressive playing style that tormented opposing quarterbacks. He is none-too-keen on the current league trend that limits aggressive approaches from current players.

“From a fan standpoint, I don’t think it has hurt the game,” Jones said. “They’re still watching. They’re still tuning-in. But if I was playing today -- there’s a lot of changes they’re making that I wouldn’t like, being a defensive player, that I wouldn’t like at all. I was an aggressive player and they’ve taken away the aggression.

“Certain calls they’re fining guys for, for contact with the quarterback, I don’t totally agree with. Some of those plays I don’t think you can avoid, and I wouldn’t like it. But at the same time, the game’s changed. I haven’t played since 1990. So these people are watching that, and researching everything, and hopefully they’re doing the right thing.”

As for his Cowboys, as far as Jones is concerned, they’re doing the right things to improve. He’s a fan of Coach Jason Garrett, both in style and approach.

“I’ll tell you what, we’re getting concerned around there, but I like the changes,” he said. “I like Jason Garrett. He’s very smart. He’s very tough, and I think that’s what you have to be as a head coach. So combine that with some talent, which I think they have, and you can turn things around in one season.”