Jerry Jones was born in Los Angeles, California. His family moved to North Little Rock, Arkansas when he was an infant. Jones was a star running back at North Little Rock High School. Jones attended college at the University of Arkansas and was a co-captain of the 1964 National Championship football team. He was an all-SWC offensive lineman for Hall of Fame coach Frank Broyles and a teammate of Neil Rosenberg and Jimmy Johnson. Other notable teammates were Glen Ray Hines, Ken Hatfield, Jim Lindsey, and Loyd Phillips.
Several future great head coaches were assistant coaches for Frank Broyles and the Razorbacks during his college career in Fayetteville including Hayden Fry, Johnny Majors, and most notably Barry Switzer, Hall of Fame coach of the University of Oklahoma. Jerry Jones is one of a very small number of NFL owners who actually earned a significant level of success as a football player.
When Jerry Jones graduated college in 1965, he was hired as an executive vice president at Modern Security Life of Springfield, Missouri, his father’s insurance company. He received his Masters degree in business in 1970. After several unsuccessful business ventures (including passing up the opportunity to purchase the AFL‘s San Diego Chargers in 1967), he began an oil and gas exploration business in Arkansas, Jones Oil and Land Lease, which became phenomenally successful. His privately-held company currently does natural resource prospecting.
In 1989, Jerry Jones purchased the Cowboys and Texas Stadium from H.R. “Bum” Bright for $140 million. Soon after the purchase, he fired long time coach Tom Landry, to that point the only coach in the team’s history, in favor of his old teammate at Arkansas, Jimmy Johnson. A few months later, he forced out longtime general manager Tex Schramm, and assumed complete control over football matters.
After the 1993 Super Bowl victory, reports began to surface in the media that Jerry Jones had made the statement that “any one of 500 coaches could have won those Super Bowls”, given the type of talent that he (Jones) had drafted and signed for the team. Jones also stated to reporters at a late night cocktail party that he intended to replace Jimmy Johnson with former University of Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer. The next morning, however, Jones famously denied those reports by stating that it “was the whiskey talking”. Jimmy Johnson was eventually forced out in 1994 and Barry Switzer was hired to be the new head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.
Jerry Jones is one of two NFL owners who also have the title or powers of general manager, the other being the Cincinnati Bengals’ Mike Brown.
Of all the owners in American professional sports, he is considered to be one of the most involved, on a day-to-day basis, with his team. He can be seen in his box at every Cowboys game and in many cases he ventures down to the Cowboys sideline (usually late in the game).
In an online poll from October 8, 2003, Jerry Jones was named the least favorite sports personality by Sports Illustrated. He is often vilified by fans who remain bitter at Jones’ unceremonious firing of fan-favorite Tom Landry. Some of the fan criticism is due to Jerry Jones’ high visibility and involvement as the “face of the team” which is in stark contrast to original owner Clint Murchison Jr.
Some Dallas Cowboy fans have expressed their displeasure with Jerry Jones and the lack of success in the franchise. This had led to formation of grassroots organizations aimed at displacing Jones from his position.
Jones is the subject of a book published September 1, 2008 titled ‘Playing to Win’ by David Magee. In the book, Jerry Jones says he handled the firing of Tom Landry poorly and takes some blame for the disintegration of his relationship with Jimmy Johnson.
Jerry Jones was fined $25,000 by the NFL for publicly criticizing referee Ed Hochuli after Hochuli made a controversial call in a game between the San Diego Chargers and the Denver Broncos on September 14, 2008. He made comments both to the press and on his radio show, saying Hochuli was one of the most criticized officials in the NFL. This was Jones’ first fine by the NFL.
In 2009, Jones was fined for violating a gag order on labor issues. Commissioner Roger Goodell had issued a gag order for all owners and team executives from discussing any aspect of the pending labor issues. Jones “crossed the line”, drawing a “six-figure” fine, sources said, as the commissioner distributed a memo to all 32 owners, along with a reminder that the gag order remains in effect. Goodell did not disclose the specific amount of Jones’ fine in the memo.
Jones in popular culture
Jerry Jones was the inspiration for the character Baxter Cain (Robert Vaughn), owner of the Dallas Felons, in the 1998 film BASEketball. He had a brief cameo appearance as himself in the 1998 made-for-television reunion movie Dallas: War of the Ewings. He also appeared as himself in an episode of the TV show “Coach” in 1996. He also appeared as himself in a 2007 television commercial for Diet Pepsi MAX, which also featured then Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips and quarterback Tony Romo. Jerry Jones most recently starred in a commercial for Papa John’s in which a stunt man performs a dance act. Jones also appeared in the seventh season of the HBO series Entourage as himself in 2010.
Jerry Jones is married to Gene Jones and they have three children: Stephen, Charlotte and Jerry, Jr. They also have nine grandchildren.
Stephen Jones (born July 21, 1964) is a graduate of the University of Arkansas and serves as the Cowboys’ chief operating officer/executive vice president/director of player personnel. Charlotte (born July 26, 1966) is a Stanford graduate and serves as the Cowboys’ vice president/director of charities and special events. Jerry, Jr (born September 27, 1969) is a graduate of Georgetown University who earned his law degree from Southern Methodist University, is the Cowboys’ chief sales and marketing officer/vice president.
A highlight of Cowboys Stadium is its gigantic, center-hung high-definition television screen, the largest in the world. The 160 by 72 feet, 11,520-square-foot scoreboard surpasses the 8,736 sq. ft. screen that opened in 2009 at the renovated Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri as the world’s largest.
At the debut pre-season game of Cowboys Stadium, a punt by Tennessee Titans kicker, AJ Trapasso, hit the 2,100 in. screen above the field. The punt deflected and was ruled in-play until Titans coach Jeff Fisher informed the officials that the punt struck the scoreboard. (Many believe Trapasso was trying to hit the suspended scoreboard, based on replays and the angle of the kick.) The scoreboard is, however, within the regulation of the NFL guidelines – hanging approximately five feet above the minimum height. It should also be noted that no punts hit the scoreboard during the entire 2009 regular season during an actual game. Also, what should be noted is that on August 22, 2009, the day after AJ Trapasso hit the screen, many fans touring the facility noted that half of the field was removed with large cranes re-positioning the screen. According to some fans, a tour guide explained that Jerry Jones invited a few professional soccer players to drop kick soccer balls to try and hit the screen. Once he observed them hitting it consistently he had the screen moved up another 10 feet.
The first regular season home game of the 2009 season was against the New York Giants. A league record-setting 105,121 fans showed up to completely pack Cowboys Stadium for the game before which the traditional “blue star” at the 50 yard line was unveiled for the first time; however, the Cowboys lost in the final seconds, 33–31.
The Cowboys got their first regular season home win on September 28, 2009. They beat the Carolina Panthers 21–7 with 90,588 in attendance. The game was televised on ESPN’s Monday Night Football and marked a record 42nd win for the Cowboys on MNF.
EXECUTIVE BIO – Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys website)
In one of the most dramatic eras of ownership in professional sports, Jerry Jones’ stewardship of the Dallas Cowboys has brought unprecedented results and success to one of the world’s most popular sports entities.
Aside from being one of only four current owners to guide their franchises to at least three Super Bowl titles, Jones’ efforts in the areas of sports marketing, promotion and the development of Cowboys Stadium have created a vivid imprint on the landscape of the NFL and the American sports culture.
Highlighted by Super Bowl victories following the 1992, 1993 and 1995 seasons, Jones became the first owner in NFL history to guide his team to three league championships in his first seven years of ownership. In 1995 Dallas also became the first team in NFL history to win three Super Bowls in four seasons while tying the then-NFL record for most Super Bowl victories by an organization with five.
The first decade of Jones’ ownership closed with eight playoff appearances, six division titles, four conference championship game appearances and three world crowns as the Cowboys were named the NFL’s Team of the 1990s. Dallas closed the first decade of the new millennium with division titles in 2007 and 2009 while the 2009 club secured the 11th playoff appearance in Jones’ 22 seasons of leadership.
Along with the success of the Dallas Cowboys on the field, Jones’ vision and leadership provided the driving influence behind the concept, design, and construction of Cowboys Stadium (now AT&T Stadium) in Arlington, Texas – a venue that is recognized internationally as perhaps the most spectacular and state-of-the-art sports stadium in the world.
Opened to the public in May of 2009, Cowboys Stadium’s dramatic first season of operation resulted in the venue being named the Sports Facility of the Year by the Sports Business Journal in May of 2010. Along with that achievement for the team’s new home, Jones was also named the 2009 Sports Executive of the Year by the SBJ.
The 100,000 plus seat Cowboys Stadium established the attendance record for an NFL regular season game as 105,121 witnessed the September 20, 2009 home opener, while the 108,713 who attended the NBA All-Star Game on February 14, 2010 became the largest crowd to witness a basketball game in the history of the sport.
In just over two years of operation, more than four million fans have attended events that included high school and collegiate football, major college basketball, professional bull riding, Motocross, world championship boxing and a handful of concerts that featured world renowned recording artists. Another million visitors have passed through the twelve-story-high doors of the stadium for daily public tours of the venue.
With its architectural versatility and cutting edge media capabilities, Cowboys Stadium has become a visible beacon that has established North Texas as a major focal point on the sports and entertainment canvas of North America.
The brilliant home of the Cowboys has become a powerful catalyst in attracting a wide range of national and international events that will define the future of the region for generations to come. After already playing host to Super Bowl XLV in February of 2011, other top flight events for the future include the annual AT&T Cotton Bowl, the 2014 NCAA Final Four in men’s basketball and the annual Texas A&M-Arkansas football series just to name a few.
Since he took over as general manager in 1989, the Cowboys have drafted 25 different players who have gone on to appear in a combined total of 95 Pro Bowls. Dallas has also signed 11 free agent players who have made 28 Pro Bowl appearances while representing the Dallas Cowboys. Since 1989 the Cowboys have made 129 trades, the most celebrated of which was the 1989 deal that sent Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings and provided the personnel foundation for three league titles.
In selecting the on-the-field leadership for the Cowboys, Jones hired a pair of coaches who won three Super Bowls in Dallas: Jimmy Johnson (1992-1993) and Barry Switzer (1995). Chan Gailey followed with a division title and playoff appearances in 1998 and 1999. In 2003 Jones successfully recruited two-time Super Bowl winner Bill Parcells to Dallas, and Parcells directed the team to three winning seasons and two playoff trips in four seasons. In February of 2007, Jones added another successful NFL head coach in Wade Phillips who guided the club to a pair of division titles in his first three years (2007 and 2009) and a playoff victory in 2009. In 2011, Jones named Jason Garrett as the team’s eighth head coach after the former Cowboys’ quarterback guided the club to a 5-3 record as the interim coach in the second half of the 2010 season.
In the last 33 years, 34 different owners have entered the National Football League. Of that group, only Jerry Jones and Robert Kraft of New England have guided their franchises to more than two Super Bowl championships. Moreover, Jones joins Art Rooney, Jack Kent Cooke, Al Davis, Eddie DeBartolo and Kraft as the only men to have won at least three Super Bowls as NFL owners.
On the league front, he actively contributes his vision and enthusiasm to enhancing the NFL’s status as the world’s premier professional sports league by serving on a wide range of league committees. He was recently very involved—as a member of the Management Council Executive Committee–in the labor negotiations that resulted in the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL and its players. In addition to the CEC, Jones is currently the Chairman of the NFL Network Committee, and he is a member of the NFL Broadcasting Committee, the Pro Football Hall of Fame Committee and the NFL Player Dire-Need Committee. Jones also served on the committee that was charged with overseeing the search for a successor to retired NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue — a search that successfully landed current NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in September of 2006. In addition, Jones has served two prior terms as a member of the NFL’s Competition Committee as well as a stint on the Business Ventures Committee.
His contributions and innovations in the areas of marketing, corporate sponsorships, television, stadium management, stadium development, labor negotiations and community service have made a visible imprint on the ever evolving face of professional sports in America. Since becoming involved with the Cowboys, Jones’ accomplishments have been recognized through his induction into the Boys and Girls Clubs of America Hall of Fame, the Texas Sports Hall of Fame (2007), the Texas Business Hall of Fame (2005), the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame (1999) and the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame (1998). In August of 2007, he served as the presenter for Michael Irvin’s induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame — a recognition he was also named for by Emmitt Smith as the NFL’s all-time leading rusher was enshrined in Canton in August of 2010.
As a co-captain of the 1964 National Championship Arkansas Razorbacks, Jones is one of a very small number of NFL owners who actually earned a significant level of success as a football player. He is the only man in the history of the National Football League to play for a collegiate national championship football team and own a Super Bowl winner. In addition, Jones and the legendary George Halas are the only two men to become NFL owners after playing in a major college football bowl game. His current ties to the college game include membership on the Board of Directors for the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame.
A man of varied interests who will not rest on yesterday’s achievements, he is a dedicated businessman and family man – sharing a vivid enthusiasm for both. Although Jones and his family are very involved in numerous civic and charitable causes, the Joneses have left an indelible local and national impression on the philanthropic landscape with their love and dedication to The Salvation Army.
For the past 14 seasons, the Jones family has dedicated the Cowboys Thanksgiving Day halftime show as a national showcase to kick off The Salvation Army’s annual Red Kettle Drive. Through the donation of national television air-time, the event has created a new holiday tradition, while helping to increase donations to The Salvation Army’s annual fund raising efforts by hundreds of millions of dollars. Major George Hood of The Salvation Army states that “by presenting the National Kettle Kickoff on Thanksgiving Day, the Dallas Cowboys have helped the Army raise over one billion dollars in the past 14 years.” Reba McEntire, Randy Travis, Clint Black, Jessica Simpson, Billy Gilman, Creed, LeAnn Rimes, Toby Keith, Destiny’s Child, Sheryl Crow, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, The Jonas Brothers, Daughtry and Keith Urban have provided the entertainment for the holiday extravaganzas.
The Salvation Army points to the annual Cowboys kickoff event as one of the most effective, creative and important innovations that has been developed in the long and storied history of the organization.
The Joneses received the Evangeline Booth Award in 1999, one of the Army’s highest national community service awards and have been selected for membership into the prestigious Salvation Army William Booth Society. Gene and Jerry were also named to the Army’s National Advisory Board in April of 1998 shortly after being named the organization’s Partners of the Year in 1997. In April of 2007, Gene and Jerry Jones served as the honorary chairpersons for the Salvation Army’s National Advisory Organizations Conference (NAOC) that was held in Dallas.
For 10 years, Gene and Jerry Jones served as hosts and underwrote the costs for the Super Lunch, a fundraising event for The Salvation Army Irving Corps Community Center. In 1998 the Gene and Jerry Jones Family Center for Children opened in conjunction with The Army.
As part of the Jones Family and the Dallas Cowboys commitment to Arlington, Texas, the home of the club’s new stadium, Gene and Jerry Jones Family Charities will donate a total of $16.5 million to non-profit organizations serving youth in Arlington from 2009-2041.
In 2001 the Joneses were awarded the Chairman’s Award by The Boys and Girls Clubs of America. In June of 2002, Gene and Jerry Jones were recognized as the recipients of the Children’s Champion Award for Philanthropy that was presented by the Dallas for Children organization. In 2003 the Family Gateway organization of Dallas presented Gene and Jerry with the Annette G. Strauss Humanitarian Award. In April of 2005, Gene and Jerry were recipients of the Hope Award, the highest community service recognition awarded by the Lone Star Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. In 2010 the Jones Family and the Cowboys were selected by the Boys and Girls Clubs of America to receive the prestigious Chairman’s Award that recognized the Cowboys long and dedicated history of supporting that organization.
The Jones family is very involved with several other community-related organizations, including Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, Happy Hill Farm Academy/Home, the National Board for The Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the Kent Waldrep Paralysis Foundation, The Rise School of Dallas, The Family Place and The Family Gateway. In 2010, the Jones family endowed the North Texas Youth Education Town with a $1 million grant. Created as a lasting legacy of Super Bowl XLV, the North Texas YET will be administered by The Salvation Army and provide North Texas youth with education, mentoring, fitness and character enrichment programs.
Jerry (10/13/42) and Gene live in Dallas. They have three children, Stephen, Charlotte and Jerry, Jr., and nine grandchildren.
Stephen (6/21/64) is a graduate of the University of Arkansas and serves as the Cowboys Chief Operating Officer/Executive Vice President/ Director of Player Personnel.
Charlotte (7/26/66) is a Stanford graduate and serves as the Cowboys Executive Vice President/VP of Brand Management/President Charity Foundation.
Jerry Jr. (9/27/69), a graduate of Georgetown University who earned his law degree from Southern Methodist University, is the Cowboys Executive Vice President/ Chief Sales and Marketing Officer.