Story Time With Jimmy Johnson

The absolute best.

Jim Rome
March 27, 2020 - 11:19 am
Jimmie Johnson

USA Today


One of the things that I’ve been thinking about and planning for is people to talk to in the coming weeks. Normally at this point in the year, it’s about college basketball coaches in the tournament, NBA personnel getting ready for the playoffs, MLB players and managers starting the season, college football coaches in spring practice, NFL draft prospects, NFL front office folks and head coaches, the list goes on.

I’m still going to have all of them on, but it’s different without live sports. You can’t talk about last night’s game or this weekend’s schedule, you have to talk about stories. You need people who can tell interesting stories. 

When you run down the list of guys who’d be good to hang out with and hear some stories from, you better have Jimmy Johnson somewhere on that list. Actually, put both JJ’s on that list. NASCAR Jimmie and football Jimmy. Because those are both guys who have accomplished everything there is to accomplish in their sport and they’ve got some stories to tell.

Football Jimmy recently spent some time with Dan Pompei on his boat, Three Rings. The Heineken Lights came out and the stories started rolling. And damn, there are some all-time stories. Among the topics that were touched on:

Charles Haley

Michael Irvin

The legendary White House

Janis Joplin

Fishing with Terry Bradshaw

Jerry Jones wanting a doll

And the greatest story of all, one involving Barry Switzer and a shoe

Any Barry Switzer story is a good story, but this one might be the best.

There are too many good stories, so I have to pick my spots. Starting with this one from back when Jimmy was going to high school in Texas with Janis Joplin.

“We knew she was smokin’ marijuana. Of course, the football players, we beat up guys who were smokin’ cigarettes, much less marijuana. She wore black leotards. Back then it was beatnik and all that stuff. So I called her Beat Weeds because she was a beatnik. She used to get mad at me all the time. But we were fine. It was all in fun. Her sister wrote a book and said I bullied her, but I didn’t bully her. Her sister said, ‘The word was you had sex with Janis.’ I said, ‘That’s not true. I could have, but I didn’t.’”

Glossing Janis Joplin “Beat Weeds” is a hell of a claim to fame.  And so is saying he could have had sex with Janis Joplin if he wanted to.  He just didn’t want to.  What?  Carly Simon didn’t want any of that? You were saving yourself for Mama Cass.? You were already rolling with Tina Turner? Stevie Nicks was your side piece. You were feeling Pat Benatar? That’s the only reason you don’t get with Jay Jop, if you can choose not to. I know, I know, you couldn’t shake Ann Wilson: I get it, JJ.

Then there is the time Jimmy went fishing with Terry Bradshaw. Actually, they’ve gone more than once, but this time it went pretty well.  

“Bradshaw and I went fishin’ in Louisiana and caught a 175-pound yellowfin tuna. I caught five blue marlin fishin’ alone. The biggest one was 400 pounds. I worked the boat, worked the rod, worked the boat, worked the rod. I mean, two and a half, three hours, that’s a battle. Normally you release it, but it was such a long fight that it died, so I kept it. I called the guys at the dock and said, ‘Hey, meet me at the dock, I wanna show you somethin’.’ I sucked down about four Heineken Lights and took it to the dock.”

Catch a 400 pound fish. Have four Heineken Lights. And head to the dock. That is a damn good day.  But take it from a Heineken man myself…the only thing worse than Heineken light is Heineken light on ice, and I have feeling that’s how he did it. 

Then there’s the time Jerry Jones wanted a big doll.

“So we go to Tokyo in 1992 to play a preseason game against the Oilers. I hated the international games. Of course, Jerry loved ’em, loved the publicity. So in the game, I pull all the good players out, Troy, all of ’em. The Oilers beat us. So afterwards, Jerry and Bud Adams go up on the podium. They give Bud Adams this great big ol’ doll for winning the game, and they give Jerry this little doll. We go straight to the airport to fly back and Jerry won’t even talk to me. He’s pissed that I pulled all those players out. So I see his wife, Gene. Gene’s the greatest gal in the world. ‘What’s wrong with Jerry?’ She said, ‘Well, he really wanted that big doll. He had to stand up there on the podium with that little doll.’ So after we won the Super Bowl that season, I went in his office and said, ‘Now Jerry, would you rather have that big doll or this Lombardi Trophy?’”

And now here comes the story of Barry Switzer and the shoe. Every Barry Switzer story is a great story, but this one might be best.

And let me assure you right now, no matter what you think this story is about, you have no idea what it’s about.

“I was at a coaching clinic in Miami, Okla., with Barry Switzer and Larry Lacewell. We were assistants at Oklahoma at the time in our 30s. We went out on the town, tryin’ to get in trouble. Stayed out till 3 in the morning’, had breakfast and went back.”

Let me jump in here to say, I am totally in. When I first read this story, I had no idea where it was going, but I knew that Jimmy, Barry, and Larry all coming back at 3am is a recipe for greatness.

“We were all staying together in this little hut. They had these old gas heaters, with the flame and the asbestos in the back of it. Larry and I had to share a bed. Switzer was in his bed, and he was naked. Switzer was creepin’ over toward the little heater tryin’ to get closer to it and sayin’ its cold, cold, cold.”

And now we’re getting to the good part.

“Larry said, ‘Watch this, I’m gonna push him into the heater and burn his ass.’ So he started creepin’ up over the bed to get closer to him. When he was almost there, Switzer pulled out Larry’s shoe and stuck it right under Larry’s nose. He had bleeped in Larry’s shoe. Larry took one whiff and started throwin’ up all over the place. Then I started gaggin’, and I threw up.”

Holy crap. That was the plot twist I was never expecting. I was thinking there would be something about Barry getting shoved into the heater, maybe a blanket catches on fire. I was not prepared for Barry Switzer taking a dump in a guy’s shoe and shoving it under his nose.

Oh, and there’s one more detail from Jimmy: “So for the record, Switzer has a size 9 1/2 D turd. True story.”

True story and absolutely legendary story. That is Barry Switzer. The Bootlegger’s Boy. The three-time national champion as a college coach and Super Bowl champion.

If you win a title in college and the NFL, that is rare company. There is a very small number of people who’ve done that.

But the number of guys who’ve won a national title in college, a Super Bowl, and taken a dump in someone’s shoe is one.

There is only one person to have done that. Barry Switzer. Barry Bleeping Switzer. American Original. National treasure.

Seriously, dudes will be dudes, and every party has one, but how much of a degenerate would you have to be to crap in your roommate’s shoe?  Best of all, everyone started throwing up instantly when they realized what it was. Guys craping and puking all over that hut: you know it was never the same, ever again after that: to this day, I’m sure it’s not right after that one bad night decades ago.