Jerry Jones, the controversial and well-known owner of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, is someone whose every move seems to be monitored and reported on by the media. Throughout his tenure as owner the team has posted some mixed results, often involving players who publicly express dissatisfaction with their pay or sending an open message about wanting to be traded. But there is more to Jerry Jones than just controversy. Unless you work for the FBI, here are 20 things you didn’t know about Jerry Jones.
1. His players were guilty of mutiny.
Not all of them, but back in 2012 a significant number of Cowboys players had circulated a petition among themselves to have Jones removed as owner of the Cowboys. Sounds strange, but this is the world of Jerry Jones. The reason? The players had stated he was responsible for causing “mental and emotional duress” in the football environment, and that as an owner he was an “extreme disappointment.” Seriously.
2. The Cowboys fans were also guilty of the fan version of mutiny.
About a decade prior to the players’ angst, Sports Illustrated took a poll of fans to find out who would get the Least Favorite Sports Personality Award. Jones won without any significant competition. Some people actually felt bad for him, especially since 2003 was a losing year for the Cowboys. Still, no yellow flag for unsportsmanlike conduct was ever seen from the media or other fan bases decrying the results of the poll.
3. Other NFL owners piled on at various times during Jones’ tenure as owner.
There is no one left after this to pile on, and once again no yellow flag was to be seen. His mentality of running a team is what got him this time around. Instead of signing team deals with brands who would advertise with the NFL brand, Jones opted for stadium deals, which would solely benefit the Cowboys bottom line. Naturally the owners sued, and for his part Jones replied in his unique Cowboy Style. He sued them right back.
4. Jones has not made getting along with players a priority.
Based on the first three items on the list, this is stating the obvious. However, it is essential that despite all the off the field antics that Jones, or any owner for that matter, should work to get everybody to cooperate on the field with the end goal of winning. Jones has managed a number of winning seasons during his tenure, but cooperation has not been a priority. Add coaches, trainers, and anyone else he has come into contact with as a member of the organization to the list of people he regularly conflicts with. Most of the people who have coached for Jones say that he is an intractable personality.
5. There is often a method to the apparent madness.
Of more recent vintage is how Dak Prescott managed to snag the role of starting quarterback. Tony Romo had been injured – and not for the first time. Prescott was a rookie who stepped in, and brought the team considerable success. Romo was controversial, true, but Jones had to make the call of whether Romo would get his starting job back after he healed up. This was an unspoken NFL rule that a player should not lose his starting position due to injury. Jones threw that idea into the dumpster, and at the end of the day Romo would move on and Prescott kept the starting role. The method, which has worked out well thus far, was to let the drama play out and bring additional pressure to both men and the team. Whoever came out on top would be the winner.
6. You can’t argue with success.
That is a commonly heard saying in the business world, and Jones has managed to win several Super Bowls with his erratic and controversial management style. What many might not know is he paid $170 million for the Cowboys and created a franchise currently estimated at more than $2.1 billion. They take center stage on Sunday afternoon, when the Fox Sports network has the Cowboys home and away games as their Game of the Week.
7. Cowboys fans should consider what their team might be like without Jones as an owner.
Jones was seriously considering buying the San Diego Chargers of the pre-merger AFL. Yes, Jones is that old. Back in 1966 he was actually listening to someone about his business decision making, and took their advice to avoid buying the Chargers. That person was his father, Pat, and it’s hard to imagine Dallas without the Cowboys and Jones.
8. Speaking of dad, Jones has a history of being an unruly child.
The story goes, Lil’ Jerry managed to convince a bunch of classmates to spread a wealth of fudge around their school. Pause for a moment to think what else fudge might look like. The expected investigated was launched and Lil’ Jerry was found to be the instigator. Enter dad, who according to Jones said he got the whipping of his life. Apparently, it didn’t have much effect.
9. His misadventures continued later in life.
As we return to football for the moment, there was a thing known as Capgate. The short version is that during one of several potential lockouts by owners in 2010, there was no cap on how much money players could be paid that was expressly stated by NFL owners. So Jones spent an enormous amount of money to lock in his best players to long term contracts. This would not go unpunished, as the NFL soon imposed a $10 million cap on the Cowboys. Whether this is an opportunistic move or another instance of Jones’ unethical behavior is left for you to decide.
10. Oops, we forgot to include referees in the “He Hate Me” list.
Paying fines to the NFL is almost a natural act for Jones. Back in ’08 he was verbally offensive to referee Ed Hochuli, which may not seem like a big deal. But the game had nothing to do with the Cowboys! It was between the Chargers (hmm) and the Broncos, and the NFL was none the too happy with his refereeing observations. It cost him $25,000, but considering his net worth it is doubtful it dinged his wallet.
11. Some of his professional judgments have only appeared to be borderline insanity.
Just when you think you know someone, they do something right. Jones decided to trade one of the NFL’s future Hall of Famers in Herschel Walker, for three players: Emmitt Smith, Russell Maryland, and Darren Woodson. The trade was the foundation, particularly on defense, for the 3 Super Bowls the Cowboys have won with Jones as owner. Without the trade, the Cowboys story may have unfolded much differently.
12. When it comes to team decisions, Jones does some pretty quirky things.
While the Walker trade can be argued as a sign of genius, fans have been quick to point out that a team’s owner should keep their hands off of the team’s day-to-day operations and leave that to the general manager. One trade that was an epic fail was Jones overriding the GM’s decision to keep two draft picks, instead trading them off for Arizona State’s Shante Carver. Who? Nobody knows because his only record in the NFL was being a complete bust. Sometimes you get Dak Prescott, and then there are all the other times.
13. Pride and prejudice have often been the motivators for Jones’ behavior.
Jimmy Johnson was the coach of the Super Bowl winning teams, and was much praised by the fans and professional experts alike. Of course, no good deed goes unpunished, and Jones and Johnson ended up publicly feuding. Jones wanted to take the lion’s share of the credit for the team’s success, while Johnson respectfully disagreed. Jones stated that no player or coach is irreplaceable, and Johnson left the Cowboys. It seems the only person happy with the ending was Jones.
14. Pride and prejudice – part 1.
But Johnson wasn’t the only coach Jones dispatched. Legendary coach Tom Landry, who had the respect of players and fans, was Jones’ target when he acquired the Cowboys. Forget about introductions, because it is reported that when Jones met Landry he immediately fired him. Finito. Jones had made up his mind on the new coach, and Landry was unceremoniously fired as head coach.
15. Psychologists may be able to understand something about Jones based on his childhood.
Jones obviously has a ton of money, and this always seemed to be the case. What he couldn’t get through natural ability he paid cash for. Case in point: he had first met his wife-to-be, a former Miss Arkansas, on a blind date. They went to a carnival as part of the date, playing the various games, and all of Jones’ friend had won one for their girlfriend. But alas, Jones failed. So he just bought her one. Maybe money does beat winning.
16. Money may also buy wins.
As much as Jones has been fined for his public comments on referee calls, there is a story where one of his off the field friendships might have influenced the outcome of a game. Jones is no stranger to parties, and as it turns out he would party with Dean Blandino, who just happens to be a former NFL vice president of officiating. During a Cowboys-Lions game Blandino, who had been seen partying with Jones, made a no-call during a crucial part of the game that led to the Cowboys win. Now the Lions haven’t been good for quite some time, so there’s that. Still, the rumors of collusion between Jones and Blandino persisted for some time.
17. An old dog can be taught new tricks.
Jones generally stayed mum on any predictions of the Cowboys success, in part because he needed to keep the focus on the team rather than the Vegas bookies. That was until 2013, when he publicly stated the Cowboys would win the 2013 Super Bowl. Hey, players aren’t supposed to do that, let alone owners. But Jones hadn’t smelled Super Bowl turf in almost two decades, so it might have been a motivator. In the end it was a failure, and Jones has returned to leaving the predictions to the bookies.
18. Jones publicly admitted he cried – at least once.
Though it took him almost 10 years, Jones admitted he cried when the Cowboys lost to the San Francisco 49ers in 1995, with the winner advancing to the Super Bowl. One of the biggest reasons according to Jones was that he knew he had the better team. Crying is something you often see players do after a heartbreaking loss, and it seems that when it comes to Jones, there are times when he and his players are all on the same page.
19. Jones has handed down his own values to his children, sometimes the hard way.
There is the story of Stephen, Jones’ son, who is the CEO of the Cowboys. Growing up rich and having a dad with a history of success is enough to spoil any child regardless of age. But prior to Stephen’s high school graduation Jerry came home and discovered an insane house party going on. The issue was responsibility, so despite the mega dollars dad had, Jerry told his son to go out and apply for a job at Wendy’s. To make sure Lil’ Stevie got there, Jerry drove him.
20. Jones can embarrass others as well as himself.
It was 2012, and Jones was getting his usual on camera attention during a nationally televised Cowboys game. He gave his glasses to his son-in-law (emphasis on in law) for a wipe down. This controversial action resulted in many people chastising Jones for his subservient attitude towards his son-in-law, while others railed at the son-in-law for having the subservient attitude. Nobody won here, but it goes to show how everything little thing Jerry Jones does is placed under a microscope.
None of this may change your mind about who the real Jerry Jones is, but it does seem like he has been treated unfairly. One reason is that he has been wealthy and successful, and combined with his unique personality he warrants the attention. Despite whether you love him or hate him, it does seem that the football world would be a little less interesting without Jones in the picture.