These days, it’s impossible to separate Jerry Jones from the Dallas Cowboys. For better or worse, the owner and his franchise are permanently intertwined; when you turn on the TV on Sunday, they’re simply a packaged deal. It wasn’t always like that, though.
Prior to 1989, Jones didn’t own the Dallas Cowboys. One brutal hangover, however, changed everything and set modern NFL history in motion.
Jerry Jones’ life before the Dallas Cowboys
During his time at the University of Arkansas, Jerry Jones played football; he was a lineman and a co-captain of the 1964 National Championship-winning squad. After graduation, his love of the sport didn’t fade.
After he finished his college football career, Jones borrowed $1 million from the Teamsters and opened several Shakey’s Pizza restaurants; that investment, however, didn’t turn a profit. He also attempted to buy the San Diego Chargers, but couldn’t secure the funds. Jerry did land on his feet, though. He ended up as the executive vice president of Modern Security Life Insurance, which was his father’s company.
Jones didn’t remain in the insurance business for long, though. He struck out on his own again, founding Jones Oil and Land Lease and searching for oil. He eventually struck black gold, and the money started rolling in.
The hangover that changed Jerry Jones’ life
After his playing career ended, owning an NFL team became Jerry Jones’ goal. He eventually made it happen, thanks to some help from a hangover.
Shortly before his now-famous purchase, Jones and his son, Stephen, headed to Mexico for a fishing vacation. One night, they indulged in a few too many margaritas; when the next morning arrived, Jerry decided to take it easy and stay at the hotel. He picked up a newspaper and happened to notice a headline that read, “Bum Bright to Sell the Dallas Cowboys.”
“Well, I wasn’t up to par,” Jones explained to Don Van Natta Jr. in an ESPN profile. “He called the office of Cowboys owner H.R. “Bum” Bright and said, ‘You don’t know me from Adam. My name’s Jerry Jones. But if I live, I’m gonna come straight back to Dallas and buy the Dallas Cowboys.”
Jones not only lived but made his way aboard the next flight back to Texas. After a negotiation that featured one expensive coin flip, he was the proud owner of the Dallas Cowboys.
Hungover or not, buying the Dallas Cowboys was a great decision
While making multi-million dollar business decisions while hungover isn’t the best financial advice, everything worked out for Jerry Jones. Prior to his purchase, the Dallas Cowboys were hemorrhaging money; they might not be as dominant as they were during their Super Bowl years, but the club is still ‘America’s Team’ and worth an estimated $5 billion.
On a personal level, Jones has gotten everything he wanted. While his personal net worth has gone through the roof, he’s also living the dream; not only does he own an NFL team, but he’s calling the shots as the general manager. That causes some problems on the football front—just ask Troy Aikman about that—but, at the end of the day, it’s Jerry’s world, and we’re just living in it.
Love him or hate him, Jerry Jones has made the NFL what it is today. And to think it all started with too many margaritas and a brutal hangover.