Jerry Jones Is Surprisingly 1 of the Few NFL Owners to Play Football

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones fancies himself the team’s general manager — although the team boasts a record few GMs would be proud of. While Dallas has floundered in the playoffs since their glory days in the ’90s, Jones continues to serve as the manager despite all reason and logic.

Few NFL owners would insert themselves in this role. Why bother? They’re billionaires who don’t need or have time for another job. Surprisingly, Jones had another role few other owners can claim: He was a college football player.

Jerry Jones’ history with the Dallas Cowboys

Jones bought the Cowboys in 1989 for $140 million — not chump change but a great bargain when you see their current worth of $4.8 billion, according to the Fort Worth Star-Tribune. Despite the Cowboys’ championship drought, they still sold for more than any other sports franchise ever. No team before that had ever gone for over $100 million. 

Jones quickly instituted a “scorched earth” policy, firing longtime coach Tom Landry and bringing in University of Miami’s head coach Jimmy Johnson. The team started off 1-15 but turned it around before long due to some shrewd moves from Johnson. 

As much of a slam dunk as it seems now, it was quite a gamble at the time, which Jones acknowledged. But it paid off.  Jones’ career in football didn’t start in Dallas, however. It began well before that. 

Jones’ football career

Before he even entertained the notion of purchasing the Cowboys, Jones enjoyed a strong college football career. He attended the University of Arkansas, playing football there when the program was much more nationally successful than it’d been in years. According to the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame, Jones wasn’t just a Razorbacks starter; he was also co-captain.

The team won a national championship with Jones in 1964. His last game was the 1965 Cotton Bowl against Nebraska. The Razorbacks took home the victory, 10-7.

What you need to know about his time at Arkansas

Jones’ time as Cowboys owner is well-documented. But his time at Arkansas hasn’t drawn as much attention, obviously due to his prominence in today’s NFL. Here are some notable facts about Jones’ time as a Razorback: 

  • Jones played alongside Johnson and Barry Switzer at Arkansas. Both Johnson and Switzer won Super Bowls in Dallas as head coaches — the last to do so for the organization. No word on whether Jones has scoured his old Arkansas rosters for clues on who to hire next.
  • Jones played offensive line for the Razorbacks. He still values this as evidenced by the Cowboys’ reliance on a monster offensive line and an effective running game. 
  • As an offensive lineman, Jones played at only 182 pounds. It’s crazy to consider that at one time, offensive lineman could be that slight.

It’s been a long time since Jones has owned an elite team in the NFL. One thing’s for sure, however, his place among the all-time elite Arkansas Razorback offensive linemen will be secure forever.