Is Jerry Jones or Mike Brown the Worse NFL Owner/General-Manager?

The Cincinnati Bengals and Dallas Cowboys are both having rough seasons. Another thing the franchises have in common? Their owners both double as general managers. Jerry Jones controls pretty much every facet of the Cowboys, and the same is true for Mike Brown and the Bengals. But while both have struggled, which one is worse? Let’s closer look at these owner/GMs and determine which one has been less successful. 

Jerry Jones as the owner of the Dallas Cowboys

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Forbes reports Jones’ net worth as about $8.4 billion. After earning money as an oilman, he bought the team for $150 million in 1989. Jones was a football player in college, playing at the University of Arkansas alongside the Cowboys’ future coach, Jimmy Johnson. Serving as the team’s GM while Johnson coached, Jones oversaw the team winning two championships in the ’90s before adding a third in the decade under coach Barry Switzer. 

This year, the Cowboys are 6-9 entering the last game of the season with a chance to win the putrid NFC East. They’ve had a forgettable year and are only in playoff contention due to the inability of the NFC East’s other teams. 

Mike Brown as the owner of the Cincinnati Bengals

According to Sports Illustrated, Brown made his money from the Bengals. More accurately, his father did. Brown’s father Paul was the head coach of the team who eventually purchased them. He’d previously coached the Cleveland Browns. After his firing, he helped found the team in Cincinnati. Brown’s reported net worth is around $925 million.

For most of the team’s history, the Bengals have been awful. According to What You Expect, Brown has a reputation of being somewhat frugal when it comes to his team. Wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh said that when he arrived, the team didn’t have water or Gatorade for the players to drink. 

Heading into week 17, the Bengals are 4-10-1. That’s good for last place in the AFC North, a position they’re all too familiar with. 

Who is the worse owner/general manager: Jerry Jones or Mike Brown? 

Bengals owner Mike Brown looks on during an organized team activity
Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown during a team activity | Joe Robbins/Getty Images

As general manager, there’s no doubt both men have done a terrible job, especially lately. The Cowboys haven’t been true championship contenders in nearly three decades. They’ve struggled to sustain playoff consistency, winning only one postseason game since they last won a Super Bowl. They’ve been able to win a few division titles here and there, but success beyond that has largely eluded them. 

But which one is the worst? Well, as hard as it is to give either man credit for their team’s performance, the worse GM here is clearly Brown. The Cowboys have been irrelevant but mostly competitive. During the Jason Garrett era, they were mediocre but often found themselves in the playoff hunt.

Jones also has to be given credit for how he’s continued to build and reinforce the team’s brand and legacy. The Cowboys aren’t one of the best teams in football, but they play in one of the league’s best stadiums and are featured on national TV almost weekly. 

The Bengals are largely a laughingstock. They were competitive for much of the Marvin Lewis era, but since then they’ve returned to being basement dwellers. Brown’s penchant for penny-pinching has to put him among the league’s worst executives. Say what you want about Jones, but he’s trying to win. Brown is trying to compete, but not if it costs too much money. For that main reason, Brown beats out Jones as the worst owner/GM.