Jones cites 'term of endearment'

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, making his first comments since a surreptitiously shot video of him spread across the Internet, expressed great respect for Bill Parcells and regret that a private, profane conversation perceived as critical of the ex-Dallas coach became public.

Jones said the video, which was filmed on a cell phone while he was socializing recently at a Dallas restaurant, was taken out of context. With slurred speech, Jones said on the video that Parcells "isn't worth a [expletive]" -- a comment he considers a sarcastic term of endearment -- and that the reason he was hired to coach the Cowboys was because Jones needed him to be able to build the new stadium.

"Bill, first of all, is a real friend of mine," Jones said Thursday evening at an American Diabetes Association fundraiser. "He is a great football coach. He probably has as good or better people skills than anybody I ever met. I have complete trust in him.

"The actual way I express myself is commonly known by my associates as a familiar, caring term of endearment, as you will. If I say to somebody that you're not worth a flip, then that means I think you're pretty good, certainly if I follow up with, I love you."

On the video, Jones did say, "I love him," after uttering the expletive.

Parcells told the Bergen (N.J.) Record on Wednesday that "I think he was just pulling some guy's leg. I'm not upset with it at all. He didn't mean it."

Jones said the experience taught him a lesson that he should treat all public interaction as if he were being interviewed.

"I certainly don't and wouldn't use four-letter words in anything that would be involved in the media or for people of all ages to hear," Jones said. "The other thing that I would be careful about is any wit or attempt at wit or humor or attempt at humor. But that's just not what you're thinking about when you're having a social moment."

Jones said he isn't sure whether there were even firm plans for a new stadium when he hired Parcells in 2003, but he acknowledged that Parcells played a key role in making the $1.2 billion stadium that opened last season a possibility.

"Our franchise needed Bill," said Jones, who confirmed a report by ESPN's Ed Werder that he called Parcells to explain the comments he made on the video. "That's why I made the decision. The kinds of things that Bill could bring to the franchise create a positive feeling about the franchise, and that stadium is certainly one of them.

"To basically say a Hall of Fame coach, a coach that has his charisma and his personality, would accomplish franchise goals is correct."

Tim MacMahon covers the Cowboys for ESPN Dallas. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.