Sitting down with Jerry Jones at Dallas Cowboys training camp in Oxnard, Calif., I’m greeted with simple southern hospitality that’s extended to anyone he meets. That holds true whether the person is a current member of the Cowboys family or a former Cowboys cheerleader like myself.
Jones’ business savvy, along with the power of the Cowboys franchise and its brand, makes him one of the most powerful owners in sports.
We recently discussed his background, Cowboys Stadium and his appearance on "Dallas” in an interview for ESPN Playbook.
How did you enjoy your guest appearance on the new “Dallas”?
They’ve done a great job with this "Dallas." We all know what "Dallas" meant years ago. I enjoyed my scene with J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman), but I’m particularly excited that they showed different perspectives, different views of the stadium. I especially liked the scene with the helicopter flying into the stadium. I personally walked off the measurements and had the helicopter pad put in.
What is your favorite part of the stadium?
The Glass. I spent hundreds of hours looking at models that would show 40, 50 and up to 90 feet of glass in some places. But inside the glass is a material that is denser on the bottom and less dense on the top. This material allows the glass to reflect the actual color of the sky on that particular day. If it’s a grey cloudy day, then the stadium will have a silvery-grey appearance. If it’s a bluebird day, it will be blue.
Hunting. Before the Cowboys, I would take my business [clients] on Thanksgiving and go into the darkest spots in Arkansas. I would grow a beard and not come out till Santa Claus came.
Most people associate you with Arkansas or Texas, but…
I was actually born in Southern California and I’m a favorite son of El Segundo. I have so many cousins out here, and they say, "But Jerry, we don’t sound like you." My family moved to Springfield, Mo., when I was in college, and they still have holdings and a ranch there.
Can you talk about your relationship with the "triplets" — Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin — and how close you are with them today?
Those relationships developed right when I first came into the NFL. I was 45 when I bought the Cowboys, so there was 20 years difference in age. One of the reasons I do what I do is because I don’t look in the mirror and think, "I’m your age" or the players’ age, although sometimes I act it. I take some of the things that have happened to me and, as a friend, share my experiences. Troy is a great friend. Michael and I have an outstanding relationship. He asked me to introduce him when he was enshrined into the Hall of Fame. We have a real bond. As for Emmitt, I can remember like it was yesterday when he came to me and asked if he could slide into the back of the office and listen to me on the phone on his breaks during training camp. He was hoping to be exposed to some of the business aspects of the sports industry. At first I was a little hesitant, but then it worked out and he did it for several years.
How important are cheerleaders to the Dallas Cowboys brand?
The cheerleaders have represented us well. They have entertained our troops and have done more USO Tours than Bob Hope. We don’t have any part of the Cowboys legacy that is as well respected as the cheerleaders. Our cheerleaders’ appearances on battleships and behind the lines boost the morale of our troops. Of all of my "sweet nothings," and I call them my "sweet nothings," the biggest stack of letters of letters I have in my files are from people with 15-to-20 years of service, after seeing our cheerleaders and how much it meant to them.
Bonnie-Jill Laflin is a former NFL cheerleader and wrote this exclusively for ESPN.com.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has endured and created his share of headaches this offseason. Constant chatter of windows closing, "beating the Giants’ ass," and the typical drama from Dez Bryant have made for a colorful summer. And now this.
Jennelle Carrillo, of Cleburne, Texas, is suing Jones and the team after attending the Blue & Silver scrimmage at Cowboys Stadium way back in August 2010. Carrillo claims she parked herself on a bench outside the facility and endured third-degree burns on her buttocks.
The suit alleges there was no warning sign alerting fans that the benches could be hot.
Wash told KDFW-TV that Carrillo has "suffered mental anguish, physical pain and disfigurement as a result of her wounds."
"Prior to entering the seated area of Cowboys stadium, plaintiff sat down on a black, marble bench outside of and near entrance ‘E’ to the stadium," the lawsuit reads, via CBSSports, "The bench was uncovered and openly exposed to the extremely hot August sun. The combination of the nature of the black, marble bench and hot sunlight caused the bench to become extremely hot and unreasonably dangerous. … As a result of sitting on the bench, plaintiff suffered third degree burns to her buttocks."
Carrillo’s attorney, Mike Wash, couldn’t confirm how long his client sat on the bench. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported "when she got up to use the restroom, she discovered her burns."
Carrillo’s lawsuit hinges on her claim that the "defendants knew or reasonably should have known that the material used to construct the bench would become unreasonably hot when exposed to the August sun."
We wish her well, but this is absurd. We are trained as human beings to presuppose that sun-scorched objects tend to heat up during a summer’s day (in Texas of all places). Any adult sitting down on a black, marble bench in August has probably sat down on a black, marble bench in August before. They’re steamy.
Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys are an easy target. It’s hard to root against them this time around.
When he was thinking about quitting football and coming home for good, Cole Beasley knew whom he wanted to call.
"He called me. I don’t think he wanted to talk to his dad," Danette Beasley said with a smile and a shake of her head. "He wanted me to talk to him first."
Cole’s instinct was right.
His dad, a former high school football coach, wasn’t exactly warm to the idea of his son, signed by the Dallas Cowboys after going undrafted out of SMU, suddenly wanting to drop it all.
"I was kind of [upset]," Mike Beasley said.
But he put that aside. He and his wife drove to Dallas to meet their youngest child. They had an idea of what was going on. They knew they could talk it out, and after a day, Cole was on another flight back to California to rejoin the Cowboys.
Which now looks like the best decision for everyone.
Beasley had his best two practices of training camp when he got back. One afternoon, he caught three passes in a two-minute drill, including a touchdown. He drew a flag in the end zone to set up his short scoring catch.
The momentum from practice didn’t carry over to the preseason opener in Oakland. He got only one pass his way, and it was too long for him. But the Cowboys continue to show signs that they like what they see in the 5-foot-8, 177-pound rookie. They used him in the slot with the first offense this week, and he’s still the first punt returner.
Now, just two weeks after he was ready to leave it all behind, Beasley appears to have an inside track in the nine-man competition for one of the two or three roster spots behind veterans Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Kevin Ogletree.
"I think he’s doing pretty danged good," his father said Wednesday at training camp. "They’re finding out he can do some things some of the bigger guys can’t do. He can be a good safety valve, a drop-off, and be valuable there. He can get some yards after catch."
The Beasley’s have been in California with their son since last weekend. They went to the game against Oakland and will go to the San Diego game on Saturday before heading back to Texas on Sunday.
Then they’ll be much closer to Cole, who two weeks ago seemed simply overwhelmed by the idea of professional football and the high profile that comes with it.
"I think he got a little taste of the media, the attention, what it’s like," Beasley’s father said. "He just wasn’t sure."
In July, Beasley, asked by Dallas radio station KRLD/105.3 FM if he gets tired of comparisons to Wes Welker, said, "I get tired of it a little bit because I feel like I have a little bit more speed than Wes Welker does. He’s got a little bigger frame than me, but I feel like I’ve got a little more versatility to my game than he does."
Coming in the dead time between minicamps and training camp, the comments got attention not only in Dallas but also nationally. Writers and fans sniped at Beasley on Twitter and in blog posts for not being flattered by comparisons to the Patriots receiver.
Beasley had already spent the spring answering questions about playing like Welker. He had performed well in the rookie minicamp and organized team activities at Valley Ranch. He was being scrutinized. And now camp was in full swing.
So two weeks ago today, following the first off day of camp, Beasley went to head coach Jason Garrett and said he didn’t want to play anymore. Garrett said Beasley told him his heart wasn’t in it. The Cowboys agreed to let Beasley go home and think about it for a couple of days.
He got to his brother’s home in Dallas at 5 a.m. the next morning, Saturday, Aug. 4. His parents had been there since 1 a.m.
"It was too late to talk that night. He went straight to sleep," his mother said.
When he woke up, Cole, his parents and his brother Shayne spent the day talking.
"It was all getting to be a little much for him," Mike Beasley said. "He’s always been a little nervous when it’s something new. He used to throw up in high school before games. He even did it at SMU."
By the afternoon, Cole was thinking about football again. He knew he was an underdog in Cowboys camp, but he had always been an underdog. Something was re-lit in him that made him want to be competitive again.
"By that evening, you could see him back to himself," Danette Beasley said. "He said he was going to go back. He had already decided to go back."
Beasley got on a 6 a.m. flight out of DFW — he was up to leave for the airport at 4:30, less than 24 hours after he had reached his brother’s place — and made it back to Oxnard in time for that Sunday’s morning walk-through.
The Cowboys welcomed him back.
"Sometimes when you’re a rookie in the NFL — when you’re a rookie free agent in the NFL — the world seems really big to you, and these days seem monumental and hard and challenging, and maybe they take a little of the spirit out of you," Garrett said that day. "And what he needed was to step back for a little bit, take a breath, regain some perspective…. When I spoke with him, it was like the guy that we signed back after the draft, and so we’re excited to have him back."
On the field, the Beasley’s now see the Cole they have always known.
"Undersized, overachiever-type," Mike Beasley said. "We’ve always heard that."
And the Cowboys? No one knows yet. But at least Cole has given himself another chance.
Editors comment: The Dallas Cowboys have had several undersized, overachiever-types throughout their storied history. One name immediately comes to mind … Bill Bates. If Cole Beasley can harness his unique talent with Bill Bates Texas-sized heart and determination, he’ll have a tremendous career as a Dallas Cowboy.
That was me the other night, sitting on the couch in an otherwise empty house, yelling choice words at Jason Garrett, who was 1,400 miles away, working the sideline of a fake football game, also billed by the NFL as "the preseason."
Yelling at people on your TV screen probably indicates a mental health issue, but we’ll leave that one for the shrinks to ponder.
Actually, I had just departed the Dallas Cowboys training camp in California a couple of days earlier, having spent eight days out there sending back mostly favorable opinions on the head coaching work of Mr. Garrett.
And then there I sat in Grand Prairie, with Garrett in Oakland, and I’m dog-cussing the man.
Why in the bleep was Tony Romo still playing in that worthless, meaningless exhibition game?
From last Monday, however, let’s fast forward to Saturday night, when the Cowboys play fake football game No. 2, this one against the Chargers in San Diego.
Garrett’s decision on playing time for top players — the absolutely essential players — will be under much heavier review because of what turned out to be a very bad week for the Cowboys.
Two days after the Raiders game it was announced that tight end Jason Witten would not be participating in any form of football for at least two weeks, and his loss to the team might stretch into the regular-season opener.
(By the way, that regular-season opener in the Meadowlands, against the world champs, is, gulp, 20 days away.)
Proven to be a tough, tough football customer over the years, Witten took a hit against the Raiders that resulted in a lacerated spleen, an injury that nobody spits on or rubs dirt on and then suits up anyway.
But once the Witten injury was revealed, it has been noticed locally that many are currently sitting on the couch and delivering a load of second-guesses at Garrett.
These howls ask, what the bleep was Witten still doing in that game? Even Jerry Jones was asked this week in Oxnard if he wanted to second-guess his head coach on Witten. Jones, who has been very talkative all camp, swiftly declined.
To each his own here, but allow me, the initial sofa screamer at Garrett, to defend the head coach here.
To rehash an old Parcells-ism, "football players play football in football season."
This is football season in the NFL, or at least a form of it.
But there is one position that has to be protected in these August games. Protected at all costs. Obviously, that position is quarterback. Even Bill Parcells agreed.
Otherwise, football players play football in football season.
Bad luck can happen, and it did. A key cog like Witten caught some real bad luck.
But his injury, on a blind-side hit after catching a desperation pass from Romo, also brings me back to the Oakland game dog-cussing of Garrett in the first place.
With a makeshift offensive line because of camp injuries, Romo played the first series, and then he came back for the second series. The ball was not moving. In that second series, there were also two massive breakdowns in the offensive line.
On the first one, Romo was scrambling for his health, and still got off the pass to Witten, and that’s the play that later proved extremely costly. On the next play, Romo was again in a scramble, but was hauled down, and his body twisted sideways. It was a scary moment.
Once surviving that, there was no way Romo would be back out there, right? But wait. Garrett did send his quarterback into the game for a third series, obviously because he thought some positive results for the offense would be a camp boost.
Witten, amazingly, also came back for the third series, caught a pass, and took another hit. Ouch. Nobody, of course, knew about the spleen at the time.
The complaint from here centers on one area and one area only.
On that third series, Garrett foolishly risked the dang quarterback in the exhibition season and did so even after having seen the jailbreak rush on Romo the series before.
For Saturday’s game, allow me to first-guess.
I wouldn’t play Romo even one snap, not with the state of the offensive line remaining in severe flux.
Aim Romo for the third game in Arlington next week, and then even for some snaps in the fourth game, also in Arlington, although the final exhibition game is usually always a no-no for the starting QB.
Red J, of course, will indeed play Romo on Saturday, but didn’t we see enough of the O-line against the Raiders to consider not risking Romo, at least at this point?
Beyond that, however, football players will be playing football in football season. And the rest of us will sit on our butts and watch it, armed and dangerous with the second-guess if there’s a key injury.
Editors Note: I disagree with Randy Galloway on this. I think Jason Garrett likes to end on a positive regarding starters in the preseason. I don’t have a problem with Romo or any other starter being in for the first few drives (including Jason Witten). What is your view?
Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said he brought in a guest speaker before Wednesday’s practice who was “off the charts” in terms of stressing themes about preparation, adaptability, mental toughness, accountability and trust.
The speaker: Gen. David Rodriguez, who oversees the 800,000 troops in the U.S. Army. Rodriguez, a former defensive end at Army who recently led U.S. forces in Afghanistan, is the brother-in-law from the other side of the family of one of Garrett’s brother-in-laws.
“He’s in a different league than the rest of us. Off the charts,” Garrett said today. “He made a presentation and then guys asked questions. He took over the room and it was remarkably good. It was emotional for some of our players. He got an ovation.”
After Rodriguez’s presentation, he received a signed Dallas Cowboys’ helmet from quarterback Tony Romo and outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware. He also sat in on some meetings.
Garrett said Rodriguez, at 6-foot-5, related well to football players because of his size.
“You didn’t have to say, ‘Quiet down’ very much,” Garrett said. “It was a great learning experience for everyone.”
In terms of bringing in guest speakers, Garrett said he is very selective.
“You’ve got to pick your spots on it,” Garrett said. “If you do too many of them, they start losing the message. But if you have an ongoing theme with your team and have a guest speaker than can support it, that can be really effective.”
From all indications, Rodriguez nailed the message Garrett asked him to deliver.
Dallas Cowboys executive vice-president Stephen Jones wrapped up today’s final workout in Oxnard, Calif. by saying that the team’s entire 2013-2014 camp will be back in the same location next year (… in other words, The Boys Are Back in town).
He’ll get no argument from Dallas Cowboys veterans who have seen the training camp bounce between multiple locations through the years, including last year’s stop in San Antonio.
Safety Gerald Sensabaugh said he’s in favor of Oxnard because “the weather’s always great” and the team can work with a heightened focus.
“We were able to get some optimum work in,” Sensabaugh said. “We’ve been taking full advantage of it. We got better as a football team.”
Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett agreed.
“The weather … allows you to get more work in,” Garrett said of Oxnard’s daily high temperatures in the 70s, as opposed to triple-digit heat in Texas. “The players are more focused on what we ask them to do instead of the Gatorade and the water jug behind us. We have all practiced in some of those hot Texas days when the focus isn’t on competing. It’s, ‘Where’s the trainer? Where is the water? Give me a cold towel.’ All that stuff. This gets you away from that mindset and lets you go to work.”
Having a full off-season of work, rather than last year’s truncated schedule created by the NFL lockout, also helped the team achieve more in this training camp, said veteran receiver Kevin Ogletree.
“I think there was definitely more work put in. More work that got done because we were able to have that off-season time where a lot of the installations were put in,” Ogletree said. “We were out here reviewing it. Guys were able to go out there and play a little more loosely instead of worrying about making mistakes like in last year’s training camp.”
The Dallas Cowboys hoped that Bill Nagy, who was waived/injured earlier in the week, would pass through unclaimed so they could re-sign him and put the guard/center on injured reserve.
That won’t happen.
The Detroit Lions claimed Nagy, who will miss the 2012 season after having ankle surgery last week.
Nagy, a seventh-round pick out of Wisconsin in 2011, started at guard for the Cowboys last season before he broke the same ankle (right) he injured on the first day of practice. He was working at center.