In Jerry Jones‘ first three-plus decades as the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, it has come with plenty of ups and downs off the field concerning the franchise. Jones’ often brash decision-making and behavior put him tight spots over the years that have put him in a battle against the league in many regards. One instance led to Jones deciding to go the path of filing a $750 million lawsuit against the NFL.
NFL sues Jerry Jones for $300 million
Seven years before Jones garnered ownership of his team in 1989, the NFL has put in place the NFL trust. That led to each team moving the exclusive rights to use its club marks for commercial purposes to the NFL Trust. The belief was that the combined value off all the teams would bring forth a greater profit when they negotiated sponsorship deals.
That saw the NFL Trust leading to the league garnering a five-year deal worth $250 million with Coca-Cola to become their official soft-drink. It was followed by VISA USA inking a five-year, $50 million deal with the NFL become their exclusive payment card sponsor. During this time, Jones attempted to move away from that pact as he realized his team had already had a huge brand that didn’t need the NFL Trust to get lucrative sponsorship deals.
That led to Jones going the route of securing multi-million dollar sponsorship contract with American Express, Pepsi, and Nike through Texas Stadium Corporation. He believed it was a loophole in the agreement as it came through the stadium and not the team, but saw Jones served with a $300 million lawsuit by NFL properties during an owners meeting in 1995. It was on the grounds that he violated the league sponsorship rules and trapped its sponsors in the same product category.
Jerry Jones sues NFL for $750 million
It didn’t take long for Jerry Jones to respond as he initially pushed for the court system to dismiss the lawsuit. After that motion wasn’t granted, he decided to file a $750 million antitrust suit against the NFL.
The decision to push for the counter lawsuit was hoping for the two sides to move toward a settlement. Fifteen months following the initial lawsuit from the league, the two sides settled with the agreement not only allowed Jones to retain his sponsors with American Express, Pepsi, and Nike., but also acquire new ones.
It was a massive win for him as it allowed him to create exclusive products for his team that was away from the NFL and generate even more significant revenue for the franchise. Beyond that, it opened the door for the rest of the league.
Jerry Jones opened the door for NFL teams to prosper
Beyond the ability to further build the Cowboys into the juggernaut they are today being worth more than $5 billion, it opened the doors for the rest of the league.
Jerry Jones’ countersuit and decision to pursue other sponsorship contracts have paved the way for the teams in the league to garner significant profit away from the NFL. It allows them to get more deals with businesses located in the same markets where the franchise resides. That has helped open the door for other teams to garner great value with nine different organizations, such as the New England Patriots, Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants, and Chicago Bears, and San Francisco 49ers, all being worth more than $3 billion.
It was a significant risk that Jones took that could have landed a substantial financial loss, but he has forever changed the league in that regard.