A shining Star
Monetizing Cowboys brand a big deal
Fifth in a series profiling the nine newest members of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. Induction ceremonies will be held March 3 at the Statehouse Convention Center.
Charlotte Jones Anderson and Darren McFadden were each in the Dallas Cowboys lunchroom one day last year when they found out the good news at the same time.
Anderson and McFadden,
both Little Rock natives but with far different roles with the Cowboys, were going to be inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in the same class.
McFadden, a former Arkansas Razorback and current Cowboys running back, is going in for his accomplishments on the field, while Anderson has served as one of the most trusted aides to her father, team owner Jerry Jones, currently serving as executive vice president and chief brand officer.
“Nobody ever literally gives me the ball to run with,” Anderson said this month from her office in Frisco, Texas. “Maybe figuratively they do in other capacities.”
Anderson, 50, admits she was “not the first one picked in gym class,” but sports were always a part of her life, even before her father bought the Cowboys in 1989.
She was a cheerleader
throughout her years at Little Rock Central, an activity she first began while watching her brothers, Stephen and Jerry Jr., play as youths. Then, after studying biology and organizational management at Stanford and spending some time working for former Arkansas congressman Tommy Robinson in Washington, she joined her dad and brothers with the Cowboys, and she’s been tackling off-field projects for the team ever since.
Anderson was in her mid20s when her father, then an oil tycoon in Little Rock, bought the Cowboys on Feb. 25, 1989. She recalls living in Washington D.C. when her father flew to talk with her and Jerry Jr., then a student at Georgetown, about his plan to buy the team.
Anderson said her father wanted to go through with the deal, but she said those advising him weren’t crazy about the idea. Anderson and her brother signed off on it, after Jones told them the deal might “change your lives a little.”
“That was probably the only time my father has ever underestimated anything he’s ever said,” Anderson said. “Because that ‘change your life a little’ turned out to be completely change your life.”
Anderson, who went to college originally intending to study medicine, left politics to join the Cowboys in 1989. Since, she’s been given vague instructions on how to handle off-field duties while her dad
and brothers tackle the roster.
“All he said was ‘Find a way to save money and whatever you do don’t tarnish the star,’ ” she said.
That’s been her life’s goal ever since.
She has served as the President of the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, helped design certain capacities of AT&T Stadium, which opened in 2009 in Arlington, Texas, and The Star, the Cowboys’ new practice facility and headquarters that also includes a hotel, restaurants, shops, and a 12,000-seat indoor events center in Frisco, Texas, and opened last August.
She’s served as chairman of the NFL Foundation, the league’s nonprofit arm promoting the safety of youth football, making her the first woman to serve in that capacity for an NFL charitable institution.
“I think that with every decision that I looked at and made, it was about making sure that you respected and honored the legacy and the tradition that had been cre- ated,” she said. “But, you couldn’t be forward by being nostalgic. You had to be relevant. And how do you push the envelope to be even more relevant?”
The accomplishment she is most proud of, she said, occurred in 1997, when she helped start the Salvation Army’s National Red Kettle Campaign, which is centered around the Cowboys’ annual Thanksgiving Day game. The campaign has helped raise more than $2.5 billion for the Salvation Army, Anderson said.
“We know that the sun doesn’t rise and set on foot- ball,” she said. “But I also know that because it creates such an energy for people and is such a great way to unify people, that we can use the game to make a big difference.”
Making a difference in some capacity continues to be her goal. At first she thought it would be in medicine while at Stanford. Then she thought maybe it would be in politics, but she resigned after working with Robinson in 1989, which she said was a “challenging time.”
But, almost three decades later, Anderson can say she found a niche in a field she was always familiar but never thought she would join.
“I never thought this would be the family business, and I never thought I would be in sports,” Anderson said. “I al- ways knew that I loved it, but I never would have dreamed I would end up here.”
Getting involved in professional sports might not have been the first career option for Charlotte Jones Anderson, but the Little Rock native has found her niche in the NFL as the executive vice president and chief brand officer of the Dallas Cowboys.