Say what you want about Jerry Jones the general manager, but as an owner he has earned his Hall of Fame selection.
For Jerry Jones and his Dallas Cowboys, it’s been a very rough 21 years. After winning three Super Bowls within five years, things deteriorated quickly. His choices as a general manager have confounded many. But as an owner, he’s been one of the league’s most influential people.
Jerry Jones and Fox
Perhaps the most influential piece of work Jones accomplished as an owner came when he helped the Fox network become the home of NFC football broadcasts. While the traditional “Big three” networks (ABC, NBC and CBS) were attempting to decrease the money they’d give the NFL, Jones played a hand in helping the new network land a $1.58 billion deal for the 1994, ’95, ’96 and ’97 seasons.
The deal was a boon for everyone involved. It obviously meant big money for the NFL, but for Fox it helped propel them to major network status. With the change, most of their local affiliates moved from UHF to VHF within the markets of NFC teams. It also helped move several Fox shows at the time into the limelight and the network has remained the home of NFC football ever since.
Jerry Jones, Nike and Pepsi
In 1995, the NFL had marketing deals in place with Reebok and Coca-Cola as the official apparel maker and soda manufacturers of the league. But bucking conventional trends in a way only Jerry does, he signed stadium (not team) deals with Nike and Pepsi.
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The move seemed unprecedented from the outside because it looked like he was thumbing his nose at the league. Many traditionalists took offense to the move, which he announced during Monday Night Football of all places, yet he broke no rules. The NFL tried, though. They sued Jones for $300 million. He promptly countersued for $750 million.
Since the deals were signed with Texas Stadium and not the Dallas Cowboys, both sides dropped their suits a year later. Come to find out, other teams had already made marketing deals with non-NFL sponsors and making a lot of money from it. From then on, more teams caught on and brought in even more money for themselves and the league.
Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson
Look, Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson had it together at first. The two knew each other quite well as teammates and roommates during their days at the University of Arkansas. They played together, lived together and traveled together. While their relationship ultimately soured and they blew up like kerosine and a lit match, they certainly were made for each other.
Had Jones not had the idea to bring in Johnson as his first head coach, there’s no telling where the team would have gone. Granted, his expertise as a marketer and business man would have still likely suited the team and the league well, he needed that genius coach to kick off his ownership.
On the flip side, Johnson couldn’t have had his success without Jerry. Most owners at that time likely wouldn’t have had the funding to put together the dynasty they did in the early 90s. They also wouldn’t have had the guts to pull off one of the most legendary trades in NFL history.
Jerry Jones and Herschel Walker
If you ask Jones, he’ll tell you the Herschel Walker trade was his own idea. Johnson on the other hand, will tell you it was his own idea. What does this mean? The actual truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Either way, it wouldn’t have happened without the two of them working together.
As the story goes, Jimmy and Jerry both agreed that the Dallas Cowboys were going to need a lot more talent if they wanted to improve on their 4-28 record over the past two seasons. The only really good bargaining chip they had was Heisman Trophy winner and two-time Pro Bowler, Walker.
Jones and Johnson let the league know that they intended to trade him and the Cleveland Browns were the first to take a really good nibble at a deal. According to Johnson, they offered “a couple of future number one draft picks and three number two draft picks.” So in an effort to generate some buzz and more leverage they tried to get another team in to create a bidding war.
It succeeded and the rest is history. On October 12, 1989 the Minnesota Vikings sent four defensive players and a running back, three first round draft picks (90, 91 and 93), three second round draft picks (90, 91 and 92), a third round draft pick (92) and a sixth round draft pick (90) in exchange for Herschel Walker, two third round draft picks (90 and 91), a fifth round draft pick (90) and a 10th round draft pick (90).
The picks the Cowboys received (and some trading of those picks) turned into Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith , wide receiver Alexander Wright, WR Alvin Harper, linebacker Dixon Edwards, safety Darren Woodson, and defensive tackle Russell Maryland.
Jerry Jones and his legacy
As an owner, Jerry Jones is a no-doubt Hall of Famer. He’s a deal-maker, is influential and has taken some big risks that have greatly benefited the National Football League and other owners. Despite his flaws as a general manager, few other owners do it the way he has.
The Dallas Cowboys remain the most recognizable team in the NFL. Victories in Super Bowl XXVII, XXVIII and XXX mark one of the greatest four year runs by a team in league history. And thanks to many of his efforts, the NFL is thriving as the most popular professional sports league in the U. S. It’s really a no-brainer. This could have been an entirely different league and the Dallas Cowboys would be an entirely different franchise without his influence.