How many think Jerry Jones is a bad owner, raise your hands! Anyone? Anyone?
Put yourself in the place of any business owner. If you invested millions in a business and almost a billion in a facility for that business, wouldn't you want to retain some say in how that business was run? Let's assume you hired a GM to run the day to day operations and to make that business not only profitable but the number one business in a very competitive market. Would you give that GM carte blanche to spend your money with no oversight from you? That would be a bad business decision at any level. Isn't that what Jerry is usually criticized for- that as the owner, and ultimately the party most at risk- he reserves the right to make the final decisions?
What separates a ‘good' owner from a ‘bad' owner? In my opinion a good owner wants to make a profit and knows that putting a good product on the field is the best way to do that. A good owner recognizes his own limitations and hires experts to backfill those needs. A good owner is realistic in his expectations. A good owner is respectful of his customer base.
Being a good owner and having all of the attributes above, is still not a guarantee of success. There may be competitors - players, coaches and owners - who simply are better at every phase of the game, and there is always the element of luck.
Take a look around the league and see how Jerral Jones compares with some of his peers, past and present.
Al Davis in Oakland is a football icon. He can certainly claim to have football knowledge, the guy started his own league in competition with the NFL. He has moved the Raiders from Oakland to L.A. and back. This moving the team up and down the West Coast has caused his fan base to look at the Raiders as a temporary love. How would you like to have Crazy Al in charge of your favorite team?
In 1984, Bob Irsay gave a press conference in Baltimore and stated, "This is my G...D... team!" and claimed once again that the rumors of a move were untrue. Embroiled in a new stadium debate and concerned that the city might seize the Colts under eminent domain, Irsay arranged for fifteen Mayflower moving vans to pack up every piece of team equipment in the middle of the night and move it all to Indy before dawn. The Baltimore Colt's history, their legends and their past, were just stolen away in the middle of the night.
How about an owner who fires a multiple-championship winning coach, takes an active role in the management of the team despite his lack of pro-football background, shamelessly promotes his team and has it play on Thanksgiving and Monday nights whenever possible (no it's not Jerry Jones)? Art Modell, the former owner of the Cleveland Browns fired Coach Paul Brown, made public statements about how the franchise would always be in Cleveland, but left in 1996 with the intent of calling the team the Baltimore Browns. The City of Cleveland retained legal rights to the name and history of the team and was eventually awarded another NFL franchise which was also named - the Cleveland Browns. Modell later sold majority interest in the Ravens (formerly Browns) team to Steve Bisciotti. Years later Art Modell was still so reviled in Cleveland that he opted not to attend retirement ceremonies of former Browns players because of the threats on his life.
Hugh Culverhouse from Tampa, Mike Brown from Cincinnati and the Cardinals' Bill Bidwill all have had reputations around the league as tight-wad owners who were content for years to enjoy the shared revenue from broadcasting but not investing enough to create a better product on the field.
Culverhouse used the profits generated by the team to fund his other investments and the Buc's payroll was consistently one of the NFL's lowest causing them to lose one quality player after another. He let Steve Young sign with another team, passed on Tony Dorsett in the draft and insisted on drafting Bo Jackson after Jackson warned him that he would not play for him - and Jackson didn't.
Mike Brown inherited the Bengals from his father Paul Brown - the former coach of the Cleveland Browns and the namesake of the Cleveland team. The Bengals have enjoyed a .350 winning record since Mike Brown took over as Owner, GM and President. He is not a big spender and reportedly rewards loyalty over performance. His scouting staff is a fraction the size of other teams. He turned down Mike Ditka's offer of nine draft picks for one in 1999 and instead used that one pick to draft QB Akili Smith.
The Cardinals have been in the Bidwill family since 1932 back when they were the Chicago Cardinals. Bill Bidwill became the sole owner in 1972 and moved the team to Phoenix in 1987 after a fight with the city over a new stadium in St. Louis. Bidwill was also known as a cheap skate until recently, after gaining added revenue from the new Arizona stadium the team has begun to invest more in obtaining quality players and coaches. The Cards fans had to wait 35 years before this owner made an effort to field a competitive team.
Say what you will about Jerry Jones but he is not a miser when it comes to getting players and coaches to join the Cowboys. His drafts in the post Jimmy Johnson era have not always been successful but it was Jones who held out for DeMarcus Ware and the 2008 draft class looks very strong. Perhaps he has learned a thing or two in the last two decades. The complaint about Jones seems to be that he is too involved in the everyday operations of the team, often undermining the head coaches discipline and decisions. Jerry Jones has made some mistakes, but it could be much worse, we could have Al Davis in charge!
From Jerry's perspective, the question is - if you paid millions of dollars for a toy, wouldn't you want to play with it too?