No one quite like HOF in­ductee Jerry Jones

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS - WALLY HALL

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.

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