Thursday, November 08, 2012

Jerry Jones – how bout them Cowboys

Jerry Jones remains one of the sports industries more colorful, more successful and one of the richest owners in professional sports. Forbes 2012 National Football League valuation believes the Cowboys are worth $2.1 billion. Forbes reported the Cowboys generated more than $200 million from premium seating and through sponsorship sales, more than any National Football League franchise. Ironically  while Cowboys are succeeding off the field, Jones their owner, is failing his team on the field.

On February 25, 1989, Jones purchased the Cowboys from H.R. "Bum" Bright for $160 million. Soon after Jones bought the team he fired the team’s Hall of Fame coach Tom Landry and long-time general manager Tex Schramm, and assumed complete control over football decisions.

“When I bought the Cowboys, the team was losing $1 million a month and interest payments were as high as 11 percent. I bought the team for $160 million, a record at the time. I immediately zeroed in on the cash flow problems, knowing that was the most important thing to fix. I reduced overhead and started looking for new ways to create revenues. That’s when I turned to sponsorships. At the time, the Cowboys had just one sponsor, and that was for the media guide. I found a whole bunch of new sponsors, generating revenue that hadn’t been there before. I had my team now. And the cash flow turned the right way.” Jones wrote in a first person piece in May that appeared in Forbes.

The Cowboys won games and Super Bowls in the 23 years Jones has owned the Cowboys – 1992, 1993 and 1995. The last time the Cowboys made the playoffs was in 2009.

Sunday night before the Cowboys met the Atlanta Falcons on NBC, speaking with Bob Costas before the game, Jones the owner offered this assessment of Jones the general manager:

“Well, I think so, because he was there to dismiss,” Jones said. “I have always worked for myself and you can’t do that. You basically have to straighten that guy out in the mirror when you work for yourself. But certainly, if I’d had the discretion, I’ve done it with coaches and certainly I would have changed a general manager.”

Would Jerry Jones the owner really fired Jerry Jones the general manager as he suggested he would? Tuesday Jones tried to set the record straight.

“We are not structured that way," Jones told KRLD-FM, via ESPN.com. "We didn't structure it that way with my ownership. There's no way that I would be involved here and not be the final decision-maker on something as important as players, and that is a key area. That's never been anybody's misunderstanding. It's been a debated thing, but it's just not going to happen."

Jimmy Johnson the Cowboys head coach when the team won two of their three Super Bowls during Jones ownership, lashed out at Jones in an interview with the Dallas Morning News Wednesday.

“The time I was with the team, I had complete and total responsibility over the football operation,” Johnson said in a telephone interview from his home in the Florida Keys. “That meant personnel, the draft, coaches, including the strength coach. Everything.

“It was always in my contract.”

Johnson as the paper pointed out has been credited with putting together the talent that won the 1992, 1993 and 1995 Super Bowls, and while Jones may have had been called the Cowboys general manager it was Johnson who made the personal (on-field) decisions for the Cowboys.

“I came into the NFL as the owner and general manager of this team, and one of the first decisions I made in the role of GM was to hire Jimmy as head coach,” Jones said.

“Jimmy and I worked well together. We had great communication, and I have always appreciated what he has done for the organization. I wanted all the input in the world from Jimmy on personnel.

“During Jimmy’s tenure, the authority to hire the players was with the GM. But it was agreed that we wouldn’t bring a player into the organization that he didn’t approve of. We were a team and it worked very well. In our unique circumstances, where the owner and the GM were the same person, in the case of a disagreement — which we never had — the owner had the ultimate authority.”

The Cowboys haven’t won anything since the 1995 season. The Cowboys love to call themselves “America’s Team” a belief the Cowboys have the biggest fan base in the National Football League and sell the most merchandise of any NFL franchise. The Cowboys remain among the league leaders in merchandise sales.

Are they still “America’s Team”? That title may now belong to the Green Bay Packers.

Jones has accomplished a great deal as the owner of the Cowboys but he is no longer the best NFL team owner, he may not even be in the top five despite the Cowboys $2.1 billion valuation.

Robert Kraft is the NFL’s best owner and possibly the best owner in sports today. Kraft and his son Jonathan own and manage the New England Patriots, building the Patriots into a money making machine. One of the keys the Kraft’s have enjoyed as owners – allowing Bill Belichick to manage the Patriots on the field, while taking care of the organization’s business affairs. Patriot Place the business development built around the Gillette Stadium stands as a testament to what progressive ownership is in today’s sports landscape.

If you’re Robert Kraft you can take comfort in knowing your Patriots won the 2001, 2002 and 2004 Super Bowls, losing the 2008 and last year’s game. Kraft bought the Patriots for $175 million in 1994 determined the Patriots would remain in the Boston area. The 2012 valuation for the Patriots -- $1.63 billion.

Jones Cowboys may be worth more than Kraft’s Patriots but there is little if any doubt Robert Kraft is the more respected NFL owner today.

For Sports Business News this is Howard Bloom

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