Jerry Jones’ goal: ‘Winning Super Bowl, not to get another billion dollars’
INDIANAPOLIS — Jerry Jones is in his 30th year as the owner and general manager of the Dallas Cowboys, celebrating his anniversary just a week ago.
He is among the most powerful people in all of sports. Forbes valued the Cowboys recently at $4.8 billion, the most expensive sports franchise in the world. He recently took ownership of a $250 million yacht to go along with a private jet, helicopter and luxury bus. In 2017, Jones was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in part because of how he changed the NFL’s business model as well as winning three Super Bowls in the first seven seasons of his ownership.
There’s a thought out there that while winning is important to Jones, it doesn’t kill him the way it kills a Cowboys fan that has been waiting for another Super Bowl or a generation of fans that has not seen America’s Team advance even to an NFC Championship Game.
In Mark Leibovich’s Big Game, Jones is asked whether he would trade the Hall of Fame spot for another Super Bowl ring. The owner, after going back and forth, said he wouldn’t. Of course, on multiple occasions since, Jones has said he would write an unseemly check to guarantee another championship.
For the man who has everything, is it difficult to remain as hungry as the night he bought the Cowboys for $140 million?
“I admire people who have got enough to quit being hungry or quit having something they want to have and they’ve got it and they have peace,” Jones said on that luxury bus on Saturday from the NFL scouting combine. “I’ve never been there. My point is, the hunger is for what we’re talking about right now — winning a Super Bowl. Not to get another billion dollars.”
Playing on a loop for the thousands of fans who have taken a tour of The Star, the Cowboys’ practice home, in Frisco, Texas, is a replay of Jones’ comment from Feb. 25, 1989.
“I just want to say this: There’s no substitute for winning,” Jones said that night, “I know that’s a cliché, but we must win. We will win. Win is the name of the game.”
At the time, Jones paid a record for an American sports team. The Cowboys were losing $1 million a month. That the Cowboys are where they are financially now is a stunning turnaround, but Jones wishes the Super Bowl wins were listed before the business acumen when it comes to what is written and said about him.
“A lot of what I’ve been associated with has been the promotion and the way the game has evolved during the last 30 years and the way stadiums and the way the game is presented and all of those financial things,” Jones said. “I didn’t get involved in the Dallas Cowboys to have more dollars. Matter of fact, I gave up all my dollars.”
The Cowboys were coming off a 3-13 record in 1988 and missed the playoffs four out of Tom Landry’s last five seasons. After a 1-15 record his first year, Jones and coach Jimmy Johnson built a team that would win Super Bowls in 1992, ’93 and ’95, although Johnson was gone for the last title.
Only the Detroit Lions and Washington Redskins have a longer conference championship game drought in the NFC. The Cowboys have lost five straight divisional round playoff games, including their Jan. 12 defeat to the Los Angeles Rams.
“I couldn’t be more in a ‘why’ mode than as to why we haven’t won or been in a Super Bowl in the last 20-something years,” Jones said. “It is just absolutely a stunning thing to me to think we’re not there with what we commit and what we do to win Super Bowls. Most teams have been through several general managers. They’ve been through just as many general managers as they’ve been through coaches, so I look at all the teams that have had all their change in management, pursuing those Super Bowls. How we managed not to get a Super Bowl with Tony Romo as our quarterback will always probably be my greatest disappointment. We had something very special there and we should have been able to figure out a way to get it home at the time. And it wasn’t because we didn’t use every trick in the book salary-cap wise, every way in the world to try to put the talent on the field to get it done and … should’ve gotten there but we didn’t.
“All that does sitting here at this juncture when I look around at where we are — and I look at it even through a personal perspective — there is nothing, absolutely nothing, short of the health and goodwill of the people I care about, there is nothing that means more to me than if I could get a Super Bowl. Nothing.”
Jones is prepared to write a ton of checks for what he hopes will be another Super Bowl in deals for DeMarcus Lawrence, Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper and potentially Ezekiel Elliott and Byron Jones. The Cowboys have the salary-cap space to do whatever is required to sign those players and potentially add more in free agency.
Coach Jason Garrett is working on the final year of his contract without any assurances he will be back in 2020. The Cowboys have a rookie offensive coordinator in Kellen Moore, surrounded by young assistants such as Jon Kitna and Marc Colombo. On defense, Kris Richard returns for a second season with coordinator Rod Marinelli after not getting a head-coaching job.
Jones, 76, said he is desperate to win now.
“That’s really fair and that’s real,” he said. “This is my 30th combine and I don’t have 30 more. I’ve made them all and it’s a big thing to evaluate and put the team together, so I’m running out of combines. So it’s more urgent than it was sitting here visiting with you 20 years ago. So yes, it is more urgent.”