A shin­ing Star

Mone­tiz­ing Cow­boys brand a big deal

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS - TROY SCHULTE

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.”

AP/MICHAEL AINSWORTH

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.

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