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Jerry Jones Named Sixth Most Influential Person In NFL

You may love him or hate him, but in the world of professional football you can't ignore him.

Power players.
Power players.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback column has been doing a series on the 100 most influential people in the NFL. In earlier installments, they had Jason Garrett at #63, Greg Hardy #35 and Tony Romo #15. The latest installment listed the sixth through tenth positions in their list, and Jerry Jones comes in as number six.

Jones is perennially one of the NFL's most fascinating figures. In part because he owns America's Team; in larger part because he does business with the subtlety of that spaceship of a stadium he built outside Dallas. But it has been 20 years since the Cowboys won a championship, and there have been some signs in recent years that Jerry has been held back from being Jerry. One notable example: His son, Stephen Jones, talked him out of drafting Johnny Manziel with the 16th pick of the 2014 NFL draft. They instead chose offensive lineman Zack Martin, who earned All-Pro honors as a rookie.

This offseason, though, the Cowboys have reshaped their roster with their stereotypical boldness.

One thing the article underplays is how much Jones has affected the financial success of the league, playing a key role in negotiating the increasingly huge contracts with the various networks that cover the NFL. His aggressive spending in building the dynasty of the nineties was the catalyst for the salary cap that drives all personnel decisions today. And his wildly successful marketing of the team and integrated approach to using AT&T Stadium as one of the premier entertainment and sports venues in the world is envied and often copied, though seldom duplicated.

Oddly enough, one of the most impressive things is that he managed to keep the team a center of attention even during the long drought of playoff success. He is one of the few owners that is a major media figure in his own right. In a league that is increasingly corporate and bland, he is a throwback in ways to the freewheeling days when the AFL was challenging the NFL for money and viewers. He undoubtedly gets under the skin of many of his fellow owners. But they need him. His unique style and charisma leaves very few unaffected. The responses vary from admiration to loathing, but both draw attention to him, his franchise, and the league as a whole. By taking risks that have paid off, he pushes the NFL as a whole to take more chances, such as the overseas games that increasingly look like they are here to stay.

Similarly, his flexibility even as he goes though his seventh decade, is forcing more flexibility on the more stodgy members of the owners' fraternity just to keep up. He is, in words once used to describe Reggie Jackson, the straw that stirs the drink for the NFL. This has not always worked as well for his team as it has for the league as a whole, but now that he has his son Stephen and head coach Jason Garrett as counterbalances in the Dallas organization, the Cowboys have climbed back into the upper echelon of the league on the field as well as off. If the continuity the team has achieved at the top can lead to more success in the coming years, Jerry Jones will continue to cast one of the biggest shadows in the league.

With only five names left in the countdown, one of whom is certainly Roger Goodell, it will be interesting to see who is considered more influential than Jones. Three other names that I could not find earlier in the list that are likely candidates for inclusion in the top five are Tom Brady, John Mara and Chip Kelly.

Follow me @TomRyleBTB

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