No one quite like HOF inductee Jerry Jones
Jerry Jones can be in a room full of people from all walks of life, yet he has the unique ability to make each one he meets feel like the center of attention and the only person in the room.
His uniqueness doesn’t stop there, and it is why the Rose City native will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday in Canton, Ohio.
Every day of Jones’ life has been teaching him to find answers even before questions were asked. His history left no doubt he would end up a successful NFL owner.
He was an undersized, overachieving starting offensive lineman on the Arkansas Razorbacks’ undefeated 1964 team that won the Grantland Rice-Football Writers Association of America national championship.
Jones started his college career without a scholarship. But he knew if he outworked everyone, he would play.
After graduating from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Jones went into the insurance business with his dad, J.W. “Pat” Jones. At the age of 23, the guy who got in the world of sales at 7 years old when he was put in charge of watermelons in his dad’s grocery store tried to buy the San Diego Chargers.
That didn’t work out, and Jones eventually went into gas and oil exploration. The story goes he hadn’t had a lot of luck until he hocked his wife’s car to give it one more shot. He hit a gusher. Typical of Jones, he turned one gusher into a series of home runs.
Still, that burning love of football and the desire to be a part of it never diminished. Jones’ Little Rock office overlooked the Catholic High School practice field so he could watch his son, Stephen, practice.
Jones shocked the world of the Dallas Cowboys when on the night of Feb. 25, 1989, he announced he had bought America’s Team for $140 million.
At the time, the Cowboys were losing $1 million a month, but Jones was hardcharging before the ink was dry on the contract. He immediately met with Tom Landry, who had been the head coach since 1960, and gave the 64-year-old faceof-the-franchise $1 million to retire.
Jones brought in Jimmy Johnson, his old Razorbacks teammate, and after mammoth trades and maneuvering, the Cowboys started to win again. The organization was no longer bleeding money.
Where others saw interior walls in their stadiums, Jones saw space for advertising. He saw the need for more suites that corporate America was demanding.
Everything Jones did others quickly copied, and because of his innovative thinking he was named to the NFL’s competition committee in 1992, putting him in a position two years later to solidify the future of pro football on TV.
When he learned the new TV contract was for less money and would cost every team $8.5 million annually, Jones got a meeting with Fox executives, and a new marriage was made for the NFL.
The Cowboys won three Super Bowls in four years, but Jones still wasn’t appreciated by Cowboys Nation. A series of coaching changes and mediocre seasons didn’t help, but Jones was a businessman, not a contestant in a popularity contest.
With help from Stephen and the drafting of Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott, the Cowboys are contenders again.
The franchise he bought for $140 million is now valued at $4.2 billion, making it the most valuable sports franchise in the world.
Jerry Jones’ uniqueness has made him the face of the NFL, and Saturday he gets a much deserved honor — induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.