LAS VEGAS - It was an unusual ESPN TV moment. It is not, however, an unusual Dallas Cowboys maneuver.
The Cowboys plan to hire Mike Zimmer as their defensive coordinator. This is not in dispute. The veteran coach wishes to return to the NFL and to do so in Dallas, and the Jones family and head coach Mike McCarthy are all on that same page.
However, a source tells CowboysSI.com that there is an "issue'' related to contract negotiations with the 67-year-old Zimmer, thus the delay from Thursday evening when Dallas all but announced the agreement and Monday morning after the Super Bowl here in Las Vegas, where the hiring has yet to be made official.
And therefore, the bizarre and unusual exchange during ESPN’s Super Bowl 2024 pregame show Sunday that featured Rex Ryan questioned the accuracy of a report from his teammate Adam Schefter?
When Ryan refuted Schefter's report by retorting, “I can honestly say right here, first off, I’m not so sure that Zimmer’s got that job right now. Not real sure about that''?
Ryan was, and as we write this is, technically correct.
What was notable about the exchange? ESPN has made famous it's "fake-debate'' style of programming; staged arguments are central to the daily schedule - but this was real: A "cue-card reader'' getting called out, to his face, by someone "in the arena.''
It is a fascinating watch.
Meanwhole, should we call the hiring of Zimmer an inevitability? Probably so. Is it "bizarre and unusual'' for Jerry Jones' Cowboys to speak so openly about a done deal that isn't done?
No, it is not. Jones' accessibility and the magnetic lure that cameras and microphones are to him makes this sort of cart-before-the-horse story an awkward thing ...
But to Cowboys Nation, not a shocking thing.
The Cowboys' interview process, it is worth noting, included Ryan, and Dallas was impressed with that visit. That fact gives Ryan, 61 and out of the NFL for seven seasons after a fine run that most notably included back-to-back AFC Championship Game appearances for the New York Jets when he was their head coach, deep insight into Dallas' hiring process.
Cowboys have hired Mike Zimmer as their new defensive coordinator according to @AdamSchefter but…— Kevin Gray Jr. (@KevinGraySports) February 11, 2024
Rex Ryan who interviewed for the Cowboys DC disputes Schefter’s report & says he doesn’t believe that’s true & that’s not a fact right now 👀…#DallasCowboys
(🎥: @espn) pic.twitter.com/kGfUmJh3rc
So when Ryan - who clearly wanted (wants?) this job - said on Sunday of Zimmer's officially being hired, “I can honestly say I don’t believe that’s a fact right now.” ... he was speaking the truth.
And as of Monday morning, with a contract-related "issue'' needing to be ironed out? Mike Zimmer being unsigned remains the truth. And Rex Ryan being interested in the job probably remains the truth as well.