Sunday’s real quitter was not Dallas Cowboys, but Jerry Jones himself…

ARLINGTON — Cowboys players wore earnest faces all week, taking turns promising not to quit on themselves and this season and delivering impassioned defenses of Coach Wade.

And they did not quit. The Cowboys were the same ugly, embarrassing bunch of entitled underachievers they have been all season.

No, the quitter is Jerry Jones.

The owner who somewhat infamously went charging into the locker room hurling f-bombs after a particularly ugly loss during Dave Campo’s final season in 2002 spent a good hunk of Sunday’s 35-17 loss to Jacksonville in his suite doing an interview with 60 Minutes, ostensibly a follow-up to his training camp interview about his stadium, his Super Bowl and himself, and followed up with a convoluted vote of confidence for Coach Wade.

Or at least I think that is what he said.

It was a convoluted 22 minutes of Jerryspeak that followed Sunday’s loss, with him hinting at all kinds of changes up to and including firing himself as GM, then giving reasons and hints why none of them were likely to happen anytime soon.

“All things are possible,” Jerry said. “What we are talking about in my mind is trying to get some limit of what makes sense, and that doesn’t make sense to this situation.”

His “that,” I think, was in reference to big changes. And just like that, any hope for that naughty-word-hurling Jerry making a return in 2010 really died. They were already struggling when his first comments Sunday were about how good Jon Kitna was and “I am not for any way in making changes.”

But like I said it was a convoluted 22 minutes of Jerryspeak that followed, so anything is possible.

His most honest statement: “I know this is about 1 percent meat that I’m saying here and 99 percent whatever else you want to call it.”

B and S were the letters he was looking for. What I am pretty sure he said is he’d love to dump a bunch of players but has too much money invested in them. He’d love to get his GM help, but there is no way the owner’s ego is letting that happen. And he’d really, really love to fire his coach, but it is too late to save this season and labor uncertainty makes it fiscally irresponsible. Sunday’s S-T brought a Cowboys source providing reasoning for this insanity: “Nobody wants to pay a new coach to do nothing”.

Honestly, do they think they are doing now?

Which is not totally fair to Coach Wade and his time in Dallas. What they basically paid him to do is undo everything Bill Parcells built, and what a magnificent job he has done. Big Bill somewhat infamously said on his way out of Valley Ranch that in a couple of years we would not even know he had been here.

And the last trace of him officially disappeared this week, as this Cowboys team added quitters to its résumé.

The players always overcelebrated meaningless on-field accomplishments and had too many penalties and beat themselves. But until now, you could never say they quit. Actually the quit started with Coach Wade’s defense on MNF against the Giants. They denied it all week — Keith Brooking, DeMarcus Ware, et al — so vehemently that a second chance seemed warranted.

What they showed Sunday looked very quit-y.

Quit is a very strong word in sport, not to be used lightly, especially by those of us not playing with a broken rib, like say Terence Newman. Which is why I ran the question by Cowboys tight end Jason Witten.

“You speak for yourself and the people you associate with, when you are out there playing, we are fighting through it,” Witten said. “You know what these people are about. We are not quitting. We are just not playing good football and not executing. I don’t think anybody is going to quit.”

This is certainly not an indictment of everybody, but how Sunday went down certainly bordered on quit. Especially on D. They made Jaguars QB David Garrard look like Peyton Manning, taking a perfect statistical day into the second half. Yes, the Cowboys at least flirted with quit and that, my friends, has to go back to Wade and Jerry. I do not want another Cowboy coming up to me and telling me about how they love Wade and believe in Wade.

If they did, they would play for him. They do not.

Even upbeat Coach Wade seemed to admit this afterward. Not Jerry, who is talking to 60 Minutes about his gorgeous JerryWorld while ignoring his awful team crumbling underneath him, all while videos play on JerryTron touting how, “Championship, it starts here… it ends here.”

For the record: It ended with Monday’s loss to the Giants

Sunday’s ugly against Jacksonville just added an embarrassing element to the finality of it all.

And even if this Cowboys team had won Sunday, what were we supposed to do with this? It is not like in Campo’s final year when they were grooming a young QB in Chad Hutchinson and having secret-squirrel meetings with Big Bill in New Jersey and just generally sending signals of trying to improve.

Jerry keeps saying, and we dutifully have printed, that he has never made a coaching change in-season. This is true only in a very Clinton-esque way.

No, he did not fire Campo in-season. But he was on a tarmac in New Jersey begging Big Bill to take the job long before that season ended. So Campo went unfired in name only. The whole thing is ridiculous, another in a season-long soundtrack of excuses and justifications and apathy.

And talk of change that everybody knows is not coming.

Yes, of all the quit seen Sunday, none was quite as bad as the owner who refuses to stop talking about how disappointed he is and do something about it.

Jennifer Floyd Engel, 817-390-7697

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