Jimmy Johnson knew it wasn't going to be easy replacing Tom Landry as coach of the Dallas Cowboys. He discovered the degree of difficulty in his first news conference.
Johnson was grilled for showing up in Dallas before the sale of the Cowboys to close friend Jerry Jones had been completed last weekend.Things got so heated on Tuesday that Johnson said at one point, "This thing has been a grind."
Questions about Landry outnumbered football questions, 2-to-1. He repeatedly apologized if he offended Landry or the Cowboys' fans.
"I'm sorry if I hurt anyone. I apologize," Johnson said. "I was in Dallas (on Friday before the Cowboys were sold on Saturday) to talk face to face with Jerry Jones."
Jones and Johnson were photographed celebrating at a Tex-Mex restaurant in downtown Dallas on a day Landry had spent studying film and getting ready for the season.
Jones, an Arkansas millionaire, bought the team from H.R. "Bum" Bright in a sale announced on Saturday night after Johnson, the former coach of the Miami Hurricanes, had flown home.
"Things happened so fast that we didn't mean any disrespect to anybody," Jones said. "I have deep feelings for the Cowboys and Coach Landry."
Landry wasn't told he had been fired until Jones and club president Tex Schramm visited him on Saturday afternoon at the Hills of Lakeway near Austin.
"It hurts me to say I did something out of disrespect for Tom Landry," Johnson said. "I don't expect to replace someone like him. But just let me do my thing and judge me by what happens later."