Yes, you read that right. For years (more like decades) everyone has blamed Jerry Jones, the owner of the Cowboys, for the shortcomings of the team and their inability to start winning since the box office trio: Troy Aikman, Emmit Smith, and Micheal Irvin. All analysts have found the scapegoat: Jerry Jones. Now regardless of how naive you think I am, I understand it has been over 25 years since the Cowboys actually made a push to reach the NFC Championship game, let alone become Super Bowl Champs, but is Jerry Jones the one truly at fault? The public narrative on Jerry Jones is that he is controlling, egoistic, and full of himself, but are we looking at the whole picture? Has anyone actually looked into what Jerry Jones has done? Are we giving more importance to his words and speeches instead of his actions? Let’s rewind the tape on Jerry Jones.
To get the correct context, let’s take a look at the Cowboys right before Jerry Jones bought the team, which was in 1989. From 1986 to 1988, the Cowboys had consecutive losing seasons, and it all accumulated in 1988 with a 3-12 record for the season. The Cowboys were spiraling straight towards the fate of teams like the Browns who before Mayfield and their new coaching staff hadn’t made the Playoffs since 2002. But before the losses piled up, Jerry Jones bought the team and turned the team around within a couple of years (along with Jimmy Johnson, the new head coach) into a winning team that eventually won multiple Super Bowls. The heroics of Jerry Jones has to be acknowledged because under his ownership the Cowboys drafted Hall of Famers like Aikman and Emmitt Smith that turned the team around and made them the best in the world. So if we truly look at the past, it is evident that Jerry Jones had elevated the team right after he bought it.
But it’s been 25 years since the last Super Bowl for the Cowboys, so his heroics are waning…right? Now I know your thinking of analysts trashing Jerry Jones for his failure in recent years, but if we look at the numbers we see that the Cowboys, as of 2020, have drafted the second-most Pro Bowlers in the last decade with 13 players (Dez Bryant, Sean Lee, Tryon Smith, Demarco Murray, Dwayne Harris, Travis Frederick, Zach Martin, Demarcus Lawrence, Byron Jones, Ezekiel Elliot, Jaylon Smith, Dak Prescott, Leighton Vander Esch). The only team that was ahead of them was the Kansas City Chiefs, a team that has gone to three consecutive AFC Championship games.
So Jerry Jones has technically done his job in getting the players needed to win because the Chiefs are a winning team and they are the only team better than the Cowboys at drafting in the last 10 years. Now everyone knows Jerry Jones has a lot of power on draft night and he might actually be the one deciding who to draft in the moment. If that is true (and it probably is true because we all know his controlling nature), it means he is actually a legend because his drafting has been spot on for the last 10 years. But if you still don’t buy his instincts, we can look at his signing of Tony Romo, an undrafted free agent, who turned out to be a Pro Bowler and was robbed of a career due to injuries. Jerry Jones and the Cowboys went on to sign Romo after the draft and it turned out to be a success story (so technically we should count 14 players the Cowboys got fresh from the collegiate level that turned into Pro Bowlers). His brilliance in drafting every year is apparent when you look at the numbers, so I ask again, is he really the problem?
The headlines always include the Cowboys. Why do you think that happens? The answer is clear: Jerry Jones. If we look at his ability to capture the news and the media’s attention, we have to concede to his greatness as a marketer. The Cowboys have consistently had the best T.V. ratings, the most amount of fans, and are still “America’s Team” even though the Patriots literally have won 6 superbowls in the last 20 years. His bold actions like spending a billion dollars to create “Jerry World”(once again a display of his marketing genius) or in other words, AT&T Stadium, has allowed for the massive growth of the Cowboys franchise and the team is now the most valuable sports franchise in the world as it is worth over $5.5 billion. If you have ever noticed, the Cowboys are nearly always the headlines for any sports talk and you can find Cowboys fans in any place in the US, which is a result of Jerry Jones and his marketing.
So if we ask ourselves again whether Jerry Jones is underrated or not, the answer is not as clear. I am not saying he hasn’t made some terrible decisions like firing Jimmy Johnson, but he definitely is better than the media paints him. He deserves some respect for his quick actions after acquiring the team to turn them into champions, his impressive drafting, and his ability to keep the Cowboys relevant year-round even when they aren’t good. My bold take: Jerry Jones is underrated for his actions, and his words mask his impressive ownership over the years. Even though he is underrated in my opinion, he needs to let go of his controlling and egoistic nature to let the team succeed in a competitive league.
Top Picture by Getty Images.