ARLINGTON, Texas - Cowboys owner Jerry Jones went on and onTuesday emphasizing he hasn't decided whether to keep or cutTerrell Owens.
Then, long after the subject was seemingly put to rest, Jonesbrought it up again -- with a pretty obvious hint that T.O. isstaying.
"You and I both know that the one that you're asking about allthe time, if I gave you the answer that you want to hear, then youwould've already had it. So the fact you don't have it ought totell you something. It really should," Jones said.
The response came in the final minute of a roughly 45-minutenews conference called to announce that George Strait will headlinethe first-ever event at the team's new $1.1 billion stadium. Butsince this was the first time Jones addressed a large group ofreporters since the Cowboys' season-ending loss at Philadelphiaback in late December, far more topics came up.
The subject changed from music to football with a question aboutwhether Owens will be on the roster when Strait takes the stageJune 6. Jones was ready with the explanation that "we'reevaluating our entire roster."
"There are several decisions on our roster we have to lookat," Jones said. "This is the time of year we do that. I'm nottrying to be trite, but as you all know we're evaluating players incollege, we're evaluating free agents and we're evaluating our ownroster. This is an ongoing thing, not any different than this timelast year. ... Our roster is our roster. Changes to that are pure,pure speculation."
When told he could end all speculation by saying Owens isstaying, Jones said he wouldn't answer "because we're not talkingabout the roster; he's part of the roster."
"We've got a lot of things we want to look at. Not just toTerrell, but several positions on the team -- backup quarterback andsome other areas," Jones said. "So, again, it's not that it'seasy or hard. It's just that I'm not doing it."
Jones said stories of locker-room drama were stirred up by mediaand insisted he's not concerned about such personality clashes.
"Not at all. Not at all. Not at all. Period. I'm just not," hesaid. "They are a figment of the result. You didn't hear aboutthose things when we were winning. You hear about those kinds ofthings when we're losing. So I'm just not. And if y'all knew moreabout some of the things that you write about, you wouldn't be asconcerned."
The news conference covered a lot of other ground over the next15 minutes and was winding down when Jones started talking abouthow angry people are about the economy. He then accused reportersof being angry that the Cowboys missed the playoffs after beingprojected to reach the Super Bowl. Next came an explanation of whyhe hasn't been talking as much lately, despite all sorts of storiesswirling around the organization.
"What we're doing here is trying to manage that to somedegree," Jones said. "It has nothing to do with information.You're getting every bit of the information that you should have."
He finished that thought with the line about the answer "youwant to hear" and the explanation that "the fact you don't haveit ought to tell you something."
After answering another stadium-related question, Jones leftthrough a back door.
Also during the news conference, Jones said coach Wade Phillipswill be his own defensive coordinator in 2009, replacing BrianStewart, who was fired.
Jones also spoke about the failure to reach an agreement withDan Reeves. The former Cowboys player who coached Denver andAtlanta to the Super Bowl was set to join the team as a consultantbefore the deal fell through at the last minute.
"I think a lot of him and really respect him, but it doesn'tsurprise me," Jones said. "What happened frankly was the processkind of evolved and it became apparent to me that we weren't on thesame page."
In talking about why he's optimistic for the upcoming season,Jones noted that only the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelerscan be satisfied with how this past season turned out. He addedthat the Super Bowl-losing Arizona Cardinals are the next-mostsatisfied, then reminded they went 9-7 last season and struggledover the final month; that's exactly what the Cowboys did, althoughJones didn't say it.
"They had a tough time of it their last five games yet theywere almost world champions," Jones said. "And so I would say toour fans that I'm as disappointed and as resolved as you could everimagine to do the best job of putting our team on the field. ...The only thing that's going to take the disappointment away is towin ballgames. That's what we're going to try to do."