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What if the Cowboys hired Bill Belichick before he came to the Patriots?

Barry Switzer, left, coached Dallas for four seasons before submitting his resignation to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, right, after the 1997 season.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images/Getty Images

In early 1996, Bill Belichick was dealing with the aftermath of being fired from his first job as a head coach in the NFL. The now-legendary Patriots coach had led the Browns for five seasons (totaling a 36-44 record), but was let go after the team had moved to Baltimore (eventually becoming the Ravens).

That winter, Belichick was unemployed and looking for work. It’s a strange concept for football fans in 2019 to picture.

The Cowboys, by contrast, were at the height of the team’s dynasty during the 1990s. Dallas had just defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XXX, 27-17. It was the Cowboys’ third Super Bowl win in four seasons.


While at a ski area during the offseason, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said that he ran into Belichick, who reminded him that he was available to work. The anecdote was recently relayed by Cowboys reporter Jon Machota of The Athletic.

“I can coach,” Jones says Belichick told him. “If you ever get an opportunity, don’t forget about me.”

“I’ve thought about that many times,” Jones told Machota. “You never know where you can find a great coach. You can find them in a ski checkout line sometimes.”

Belichick was asked about the comment at his Wednesday media availability.

“Ya, I saw that,” said Belichick. “I don’t know if I quite remeber it the way Jerry described it, but he’s probably got a better memory than I do.”

Of course, the Cowboys — coming off their third Super Bowl in four seasons — weren’t looking for a head coach or a defensive coordinator. Belichick eventually landed in New England as the defensive coordinator for then-Patriots coach Bill Parcells.

But Dallas made two head coaching changes between 1998 and 2000, a time in which Belichick was not a head coach. Eventually, after a protracted dispute with the Jets, Belichick ended up back in New England as the team’s head coach in early 2000.


Since that time, Dallas has had four coaches (including Parcells), and hasn’t made it past the divisional playoff round. Belichick has won six Super Bowls with the Patriots.

The two teams meet on Sunday at 4:25 p.m. at Gillette Stadium.

Hayden Bird can be reached at Follow him on twitter at @haydenhbird.