Does Jerry Jones Deserve More Credit Than He Gets From NFL Fans?

One polarizing NFL figure is Jerry Jones. Seen by some as a blustery, arrogant owner set in his ways, he’s actually had quite a lasting impact on not just the Dallas Cowboys, but the NFL. Jones has been a visionary owner. Let’s take a look at exactly how he’s contributed to the game.

Jerry Jones’ tenure as owner of the Dallas Cowboys

Team Owner Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys signs autographs
Owner Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys signs autographs | Al Pereira/Getty Images

Before purchasing the Cowboys for $150 million in 1989, Jones made his money in the oil industry. The team is now worth over $5 billion, so his move to buy the team was an incredibly good investment.

Jones didn’t have the financial resources he has now, so he really gambled by buying the team. Even his father warned him against it. But Jones has made it work, reviving the Cowboys as one of the NFL’s most iconic brands.

During Jones’ time as the owner, the team has won three Super Bowls, though all three were in the 1990s. Jimmy Johnson was head coach for the first two, though he left after clashing with Jones. Barry Switzer won the third. The Cowboys have made the playoffs many times since then but have yet to return to the Super Bowl. 

While it’s hard to establish a single metric for team popularity, the Cowboys are probably the NFL’s most popular team. They have fans (and haters) all over the U.S. and are often featured on nationally televised games. 

How Jerry Jones impacted the NFL’s TV deals

One of the NFL’s biggest moneymakers is its mammoth TV deals with the networks. When the networks cried poor before the NFL exploded, they wanted some money back. Jones insisted the owners refuse.

As ESPN explains, Cleveland Browns owner and then-chairman of the NFL TV committee, Art Modell, encouraged teams to return $308 million in revenue for a two-year TV contract extension. And Jones wasn’t having it.

Three years prior, the Cowboys owner bought the team for a “record $140 million.” Naturally, he wasn’t going to give money back. “We think there will be an economic uptick down the road,” Jones said at a 1992 owners’ meeting. “It’s way too early to make a decision on the contract. The NFL holds up well in recession times.”

Jones was right to advocate this, as owners now make money hand over fist. The TV deals are a big part of this. When new network negotiations began in the ’90s, then-NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue asked Jones to participate. This led to lucrative new deals from Fox to cover the NFC and CBS to cover the AFC. 

How Jerry Jones changed the way the NFL does business

Jones wasn’t just influential when it came to the TV deals. He also improved how the teams increased revenue. When Jones entered the Hall of Fame, the Dallas Morning News reviewed the reasons he deserved the honor. Jones work with helping the league increase in-stadium revenue was one:

“The stadium revenue streams that Jones introduced in the mid-1990s also have contributed to the salary-cap inflation. His Texas Stadium sponsorships with American Express, Nike and Pepsi created stadium revenue streams that all NFL teams needed to generate, which triggered a boom in stadium construction.”

Some Cowboys’ fans dislike Jones for his refusal to dismiss head coach Jason Garrett. He’s hated by many football fans simply because he owns the team. But if you give credit where it’s due, you’ll realize Jones has had a positive impact on the game of football.