It all started back in 1989, when Jerry Jones bought the Dallas Cowboys. Now, almost 28 years later, Jones is a member of the NFL Hall of Fame as a contributor. It is a deserved honor. Jones has acted as the Cowboys general manager since he has owned the team, and under his stewardship the team won three Super Bowls. That is only a part of what got him voted into the Hall of Fame, though, much of it has to do with how he has shaped the NFL during his tenure. It’s hard to think any owner being more influential than Jones.
Let’s dispense with the on-field stuff first. Jones didn’t endear himself to fans at the beginning when he unceremoniously dumped Tom Landry, the most revered figure in Cowboys history. That is something some fans will never forgive him for. But, he did hire Jimmy Johnson. That move set in motion the Cowboys return to the mountaintop and resulted in three Super Bowls in the early 90s. History has given much of the credit to Johnson, but none of it would have happened without Jones making the final decisions, and the inside history shows Jones was more involved than he gets credit for, even Johnson has admitted to as much.
Detractors will ask what has he done since then, and that is a fair point. If Jones were the GM on any other team, he would have been fired by the owner long ago. Still, three Super Bowls for any GM is a lot, and it gave the Cowboys franchise one of the most dominant teams of any era, one for the ages. Jones gets a lot of credit for that.
He’s made mistakes as a GM, sometimes making disastrous trades or over-ruling his head coaches. For many years it lead to a dysfunctional franchise that faltered. But he learned from that, and has now learned to trust his lieutenants. He’s learned that he doesn’t have all the answers.
It’s away from the field, in the business of growing the brand, and growing the NFL, where Jones is an undisputed visionary. The list of things he’s done for the Cowboys and for the NFL is long. Too long to detail. Suffice it to say in the landscape of marketing deals, TV rights, stadium construction... heck, in the landscape of making money, Jerry Jones is a giant. Not just a Cowboys giant, or an NFL giant, but a business world giant.
In his early days in the NFL, he was called a maverick, part of the new-guard, not one of the boys that ran the NFL. His ideas were radical, a threat to the NFL’s way of doing business. He wasn’t well-liked by some. Now, he’s the establishment, because all the things he established have been adopted by the other franchises. Once the money flowed in, he wasn’t just one of the guys now, he was the guy, the NFL’s go-to guy when it came to many of the business decisions.
His personality has to also figure into the equation. He is a quote machine, sometimes talking when he shouldn’t be, but never failing to entertain. For Cowboys fans, this has been a blessing and a curse. It has kept the Cowboys relevant in the bad times, times that could have doomed other franchises to obscurity. It has also caused issues, famously with his former head coach Jimmy Johnson.
For all his good and bad, there is no denying his influence on the NFL. It’s hard to define how important he has been to this modern age of football.
For all of this, he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Congrats, Jerry.