Jimmy Johnson

Class of 2020

Division Titles


Playoff Appearances




Super Bowl Victories


“The realizations that there’s a very thin line between the top and the bottom of this league. The good part is that you don’t have far to go. The bad part is that every week a team can beat you.”

Jimmy Johnson arrived in the National Football League after a successful coaching career in the college ranks that included a national championship with the University of Miami. He was hired by the struggling Dallas Cowboys in 1989 to revive the once-proud franchise. He served five seasons with the Cowboys and guided the team to two Super Bowl championships. Johnson also coached the Miami Dolphins for four seasons and led the club to the playoffs in all but his first year on the job.

Johnson took charge of the Cowboys and improved the team from 1-15 in his first season, to 7-9 in 1990 and a return to the playoffs with an 11-5 record in 1991.  

The Cowboys reached the pinnacle of the NFL in 1992 and 1993 with similar paths to back-to-back Super Bowl titles. Both seasons, Dallas claimed NFC Eastern Division titles, defeated the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game and defeated the Buffalo Bills in the Super Bowl.

In 1992, the Cowboys finished 13-3, the most wins in team history, to win the NFC Eastern Division. Dallas knocked off the Eagles in the divisonal playoff, followed by a win over the 49ers in the conference championship and claimed the Super Bowl title with a 52-17 drubbing of the Bills. The following season, the Cowboys entered the playoffs as the NFC’s top seed at 12-4, downed the Green Bay Packers and 49ers en route to a rematch in Super Bowl XXVIII where they once again downed the Bills, this time by a score of 30-13. Johnson then departed the Cowboys after he had compiled an overall record of 51-37 that included a impeccable 7-1 mark in the postseason. 

He returned to the NFL sidelines as the Dolphins coach in 1996. After Miami finished 8-8 in Johnson’s first year, the club registered three straight winning seasons and Wild Card berths. The Dolphins finest season under Johnson came in 1998 when Miami’s stingy defense led the league in fewest points allowed and finished 10-6.

In all, Johnson’s record as an NFL head coach was 80-64-0 in the regular season and 9-4 in the playoffs for an overall mark of 89-68-0.

Full Name: James William Johnson

Birthdate: July 16, 1943

Birthplace: Port Arthur, Texa

High School: Thomas Jefferson (Port Arthur, Texas)

Head Coaching Career: 9 seasons (1989 - 1993, 1996 - 1999)

ANNOUNCER:  Presenting Jimmy Johnson for enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Troy Aikman. 

JIMMY JOHNSON:  Oh, boy.  (Applause). 

First of all, about Troy, you know, I had a lot of great players, but more than a great player, he's become a great friend.  And I think that's one of the great things about our game is the relationships that we make with one another, players, coaches, each other.  It's a special, special game. 

I guess you're wanting to know what I'm going to say about Jerry Jones.  (Applause) (Laughter.)

Well, Jerry, you told me, he said, We're going to make sports history before we ever bought the Cowboys -- before you bought the Cowboys, because I didn't pay a damn cent. 

And you know what?  We - we - did make sports history.  Not only for the Dallas Cowboys, but for the NFL.  We go from the worst team in the league two years in a row to winning back-to-back Super Bowls and building a heck of a football team.

We did it, and let me tell you, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.  Thank you for giving me that opportunity.  (Applause).

You know, I look back, and so many things have happened to me in my career and it's because of others.  You know, I didn't do it, they did it.  But before I give you the thank yous, I want to say something about the people that really sacrificed. 

My sons, Brent and Chad and their mother Linda Kay.  She was a great, great woman.  My wife and my best friend, Rhonda.  Bill Cowher knows, a coach, he has to struggle with the family life, and wives put up with a lot of crap.  Fortunately Rhonda doesn't have to put up with much crap because I'm pretty good.  (Laughter.)

Well, getting ready for this thing I'm saying, Okay, who all am I going to thank?  Stared a list and I said, No, no, I can't do that.  You know, I went back to Brent and Chad.  I said, you know, I wasn't there for you.  I felt like I had to outwork my opponent, and that's why it's hard on coach's families.

My two sons played football.  I never saw them play a down.  That's a shame.  Fortunately, I corrected that and we have a relationship now that I wouldn't trade for any.  It is the best.  I've got the greatest two sons in the world and I love them with all my heart. 

I love my wife, Rhonda, with all my heart, and I appreciate what she puts up with me.  I started putting together a list and I said, Okay, Troy, Emmitt, Michael, Charles, Nate, Dan, Jason, Zach, Russell, Daryl, Step.  my coaches, Dave, Tony, Norv, Butch, Camps, Bruce.  I said, the hell with it, I can't make a list.  There is too many. 

There is too many to say thank you, so I'm not going to say a whole lot of thank yous.  I went in the College Football Hall of Fame a long time ago because I had great assistant coaches and great players.  Maybe I had something to do with bringing them together, but they won the games.  Those players won the games.  I didn't win the games. 

I went in the Broadcasting Hall of Fame, and Hey listen to this, when you're sitting there with Terry, Howie, Michael, Jay, Kurt, and you got the best producer in all of television with Bill Richards, you're going to go in the Broadcasting Hall of Fame.  It's because of those folks. 

And now I'm in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  Again, great assistant coaches, great players, and a great organization.  Looking back, I went and counted, I coached, recruited, or drafted 13 players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  Let me tell you what, Zach Thomas belongs up here.  Darren Woodson belongs up here.  There's two players, they were key factors.  We led the NFL in defense in Dallas, we led in defense in Miami, and those two players were key parts of it.  They need to be Hall of Famers.  That way I'll have 15 of them, whatever. 

Hey, and on top of that I coached in broadcasting with 14 more Hall of Famers.  I think I know what one looks like.  I few months ago few of my friends came down to The Keys.  We laughed, we told stories.  It was truly one of the more enjoyable times of my life. 

I told them after they left, You know, you know when we were winning championships we were so obsessed and driven to get better, even after that first Super Bowl, you know, eyes on the road.  We were all on the road, looking at players, getting ready for the draft, trying to find more players, trying to get better.

Because we were working that way, we probably didn't enjoy the success as much as what we should have.  Moments like what we had a month or two ago when those guys came down, maybe that makes up for it a little bit to where we can enjoy it. 

You know, I always tried to make my people better.  Right, Charles?  Tried to make us better.  Every player, every coach, I tried to make them better. 

And, you know, I never really dreamed -- I wasn't a dreamer.  Dreaming is hoping.  I believed.  I really believed.  People say, What made you think when you were at Miami you could take these inner city kids and they were going to get an education?  What made you say that you were going to get them a college degree?  Because that's what I talked about. 

I believed they were, and 90% of them got their college degree.  That's what I was proud of.  What made you think you're going to win a Super Bowl when you're 1-15?  I didn't dream about it, I believed we were going to win a Super Bowl. 

When you believe it it has something the way you act and how you deal with people, your expectation.  You put expectations on them.  You treat a person as he is, he's going to stay as he is.  Treat a person as if he were what he could be and should be, he'll become what he could be and should be. 

I didn't dream.  I believed we were going to do it.  (Applause).

You can live your life influenced by others or you can believe in something.  People say, Hey, you're stubborn, you're foolish, you're crazy, but if you believe it, you're going to work to make it happen. 

Wayne Huizenga told me, one thing he said, Jimmy, let me tell you something.  I know how hard you work.  Don't forget about QTL, Quality Time Left.  Think about that.  I'm 78 years old and I think about QTL all the time. 

Let me tell you something folks, the people that you love, like my family right over there, appreciate those people, because there will come a day you're not going to be able to appreciate them because you're not going to be around.

Thank you for your attention and the opportunity, and thank everybody that helped me along the way.  Thank you.