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As anyone who’s ever played fantasy football can tell you, running an NFL team is more effort than you’d think. From scouting and drafting players to negotiating contracts, an executive’s work is never done. Don’t that Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones that, though.

Jones, of course, calls the shots for America’s Team and is worth a massive $8.5 billion. Despite that reality, he insists that he’s hasn’t worked a day in quite some time.

Jerry Jones’ road to NFL ownership

Even if Jerry Jones hasn’t done any work recently, that wasn’t always his reality. He actually tried his hand at a few different careers before purchasing the Dallas Cowboys.

After playing high school football, Jones took his talents to the University of Arkansas, where he slotted in on the Razorbacks’ offensive line. While Jerry doesn’t seem like a physically intimidating presence today, he managed to hold his own; he eventually became a co-captain of the team and won the 1964 NCAA championship.

Jones wouldn’t immediately find work in football, though. He attempted to break into the business world, borrowing money to open up several Shakey’s Pizza restaurants; that venture, however, would promptly go belly up. After failing to buy the San Diego Chargers, Jerry decided to go in another direction and joined up with his father at Modern Security Life Insurance.

Jones, of course, wasn’t destined to spend his life in the insurance industry. In the 1970s, he set out on his own, founding Jones Oil and Land Lease; by 1989, he was rich enough to break into the NFL by buying the Dallas Cowboys.

Taking the control of the Dallas Cowboys

While some owners are content to sit in their luxury suite and watch their investment, Jerry Jones does things his own way. In his introductory press conference, he claimed he would know his organization “down to the jocks and socks;” for better or worse, he’s tried to follow through on that plan.

Jones immediately made his mark on the Cowboys, firing Tom Landry and replacing him with Jimmy Johnson. While the move paid off—the Cowboys won three Super Bowls as the dominant team of the 1990s—things haven’t gone as well in recent years.

While it’s dangerous to reduce an entire franchise’s failing to one issue, it certainly isn’t ideal to have one man—in this case, Jerry Jones—serving as both owner and general manager. No matter how many poor personnel decisions Jones makes, he isn’t going to fire himself or take a step back; that has kept the Cowboys stuck in limbo, neither bad enough to completely collapse nor good enough to make a genuine run at the title.

Jerry Jones is worth $8.5 billion but hasn’t worked in years

Even if the Dallas Cowboys never win another Super Bowl, it’s safe to say Jerry Jones hit a home run. Not only has the club turned into a financial juggernaut and made its owner a very wealthy man, but it’s allowed him to enjoy the past three decades of his life.

“I haven’t worked a day in 30 years,” Jones told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 2019. “It’s been that kind of experience. Every day has been a growing experience.”

“The NFL and the Dallas Cowboys made me something I wouldn’t have been, he continued. “My lesson here if there is one, if you can get in something that just piques your imagination every day, then you can grow with it. And consequently, I am not the same person that I was 30 years ago as far as enthusiasm, ideas. I am more enthusiastic sitting here today than I was 30 years ago.”

There’s a cliche that says, “if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. For Jerry Jones, football has proven that to be true; being worth $8.5 million, however, probably helps, too.


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