Early next month something remarkable is going to take place. Something that no one would have envisioned 28 years ago: Jerral Wayne Jones will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
There are few who would put up a fight over Jones’ induction today, given his team’s successes, and his invaluable contributions to the NFL’s rise as the preeminent professional sports league in America. But when Jones first purchased the team in 1989, fans and analysts often ripped him as a backwoods hick without savvy or tact. Three Super Bowls, two teams in Los Angeles, and countless amounts of revenue later, Jerry Jones’ contributions to the NFL are undeniable.
Over the last nine months I’ve been working on a radio documentary of sorts that chronicles the team’s rise to power in the 90s. I’ve gotten the opportunity to speak with coaches, players, and analysts for the project, and along the way I asked many of them about Jones’ legacy.
While the on-field triumphs during the Jones era are evident, it’s things that often go unnoticed by the public that stick out to those who have followed his career.
“[When Jerry first purchased the Cowboys] no one worked out at Valley Ranch in the offseason,” former head coach Dave Campo recalls. “Jerry was willing to pay all of [the staff] to stay here. So he realized the importance of the game, and he loves the game, and he loves the Dallas Cowboys.”
Campo views Jones as the embodiment of the league’s ultimate purpose: to entertain.
“The game of football, and the NFL, is entertainment. If it wasn’t entertainment, nobody would be watching. And he’s an entertainer. Not only is he a great businessman, but he is larger than life in a lot of ways.”
While fans perhaps understand the overarching impact Jones has on the Cowboys organization, the scope of his work reaches far beyond the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex.
“He helped reinvent the game as we know it,” says Mike Fisher of 105.3 The Fan in Dallas. “In areas of finance, there’s no question that Jerry was avant-garde when it came to how the NFL handles its money.
“I’ll never forget, it was my first spring here in 1990, and I’m in Jerry’s office. And Jerry goes ‘watch this’ and he calls the Cincinnati Bengals. And the phone went to an answering machine, because it was 1990 and the offseason. And I realized later where we were going here: [Jerry thought] if [an NFL team] doesn’t want to market themselves, sell themselves, make money, and work in March, April, and May, then that’s their business. But that shouldn’t stop the Cowboys from doing so.”
Rick Gosselin, who has covered the Cowboys for 27 of the 28 years that Jerry Jones has owned the team, says Jones is still driven by winning more than anything else.
“I don’t think [criticism] bugs him at all. I think he’s a guy that, ‘if I win it, I don’t care what you think.’
“Jerry is the most thick-skinned sporting person I’ve ever dealt with. He doesn’t care what you write about him, just spell ‘Cowboys’ right in the headline.”
Love him or hate him, there is no one with the résumé of Jerry Jones. And that résumé has now rightfully earned him a spot in professional football’s most exclusive club.
Congratulations, Mr. Jones.
NOTE: To hear the remarks included in this article, you can click HERE for today’s edition of CowboysCast.