Thanks to an excellent behind-the-scenes look at the Jerry Jones family, provided by the Dallas Morning News, we get an intimate look at the relationship between Jerry Jones and Stephen Jones. We’ll summarize some of the points here, but we encourage you to check out the whole article if you can.
Jerry Jones, the soon to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame owner of the Dallas Cowboys, is no stranger to making deals. He has put together some blockbuster transactions that are still referenced today as very smart investments.
Case in point: The Herschel Walker transaction.
Still, Jerry Jones would likely argue that some of his greatest deals involved those he made with his children.
In a recent interview Stephen Jones gave us a unique look inside the Jones family and some of the techniques that his father used to guide his son as he was growing up. For the current Cowboys executive vice president, his first ‘business’ deal with his father came as a young high school quarterback.
Jerry held the belief that having his son be the best football player he could be required the young man’s total dedication, and that meant that Stephen would not have the availability to hold down a part-time job. All that the elder Jones expected was that his son be 100% dedicated to his role as a member of the squad.
"You're going to have this football and training regimen. I don't think you can do that and have a job. You have to treat football like a job. You don't take a day off. You don't skip work. Do we have a deal?" - Jerry Jones
Like any football player would, Stephen readily accepted his father’s offer. When the younger man backslid on his commitment, Jerry actually ordered him out of the family swimming pool during an ‘unapproved’ party, dressed him up in a suit and took his son to a job interview.
Jerry kept his end of the agreement and he intended for Stephen to do so as well. There was a price to be paid for failing to do so. It served as a lesson for the younger Jones.
Later on it was time for the young athlete to attend college and his choice of schools was the University of Arkansas. Jerry had won a National Championship as a Razorback, and his son wanted to follow in those footsteps. Most fathers would be thrilled, but Jerry was less enthusiastic.
Jerry much preferred that his son attend Princeton, which had also offered a scholarship. It was once again time for the elder man to offer a deal. Stephen could go to Arkansas on one condition. He had to take the toughest academic program the university had to offer.
Coincidentally, the chemical engineering program that Stephen enrolled in prepared him for a career in his father’s oil and gas business. That proposition was one that made Jerry a winner either way, but it also allowed his son to get what he wanted as a part of the deal.
There was a second lesson for his son. A deal is only a good one if both parties win something.
Eventually Jerry moved on from the business that made him a rich man, and he set his sights on owning an NFL team. His purchase of the Dallas Cowboys spurred another offer.
"What do you think putting business school off and coming to Dallas to learn the football business with me?"
It was a risky venture for both men. The Cowboys were bleeding money at the time. Jerry was risking the fortune he made. He was also asking his son to jeopardize his future success by forgoing what would be a logical step in his professional development.
With great risks come great rewards was the lesson this time around.
Nearly three decades later father and son are still working together in the Dallas Cowboys front office. Stephen is widely seen as one of the key architects of a revitalized Dallas franchise. Jerry may still be the face of the team, and he is undoubtedly one of the most involved owners in any professional sport. He just has the luxury of having a group of business partners who share the same bloodline.
One day it appears that Stephen will fill his father’s shoes as the guiding force behind the Dallas Cowboys. He has been in training for the role throughout his life, but the foundation for that training came from the business proposition that Jerry made to the young man back in 1980.