Donuts: The Jerry Jones You Need To Know

At 23, Jerry Jones was cobbling together a $5.8 mil bid to buy the Chargers. It was 1965 and it was a wild idea that seemed a bit beyond the means of the kid. So Jerry's dad talked him out of the investment and 60 days later, that $5.8 million interest was sold to somebody else. For $11 million. Some Jerry tales, the ‘botched' Super Bowl, and my gift to fix it all: A free Mavs Premium Account!

DONUT 1: Jerry Jones rarely makes the same mistake twice, as we now know after his 1989 purchase of the Dallas Cowboys for $140 million and 22 years of labor that has transformed the franchise into a $1.2 billion enterprise.

Jerry Jones rarely makes the same mistake twice, but that isn't preventing the doubters from assuming that his hosting of North Texas' Super Bowl XLV – alternately termed a "tragedy'' and a "disaster'' depending on which word which national writer found to be more dramatic – will mean the Super Bowl will never again grace the still-iced-over entrances of Cowboys Stadium.

DONUT 2: They are wrong about the Super Bowl. They are wrong about Jerral Wayne Jones. They are in so many ways almost always wrong about Jerral Wayne Jones, who is being demonized for some crummy luck and some crummy work that isn't really his fault …

But by God, he's going to fix it, anyway.

DONUT 3: As you read this, National Football League fans prepare to spend 2011 booing Jerry at stadiums across the land. And they Will Do so even if a lockout means a shortage of games, because if there is a labor dispute that precludes fans from entering their stadiums, they will boo even more loudly and blame Jerry Jones for that, too.

DONUT 4: There are, however, some things you should know about Jerry Jones the person, things I've known about him since 1990. I believe I've probably spend as many hours sitting in Jones' office, standing next to him on a practice field, sharing a soda pop with him in a saloon and being yelled at by him through a telephone, as any other media member. These four things are not defenses of ice cascading off a roof or seating sections that weren't bolted down or Prince failing to show up for his concert or whatever the hell else seems like it's all Jerry's fault. … Rather, they are personality traits that drive Jones to plow through the accusations of villainy.

Because you see, he's plowed through it all before and come out the other end … with a billion dollars.

DONUT 5: Jerry is stubborn. In a good way.

At the Cowboys 1991 training camp, Jerry was leafing through the Austin phonebook when he suddenly realized he couldn't read the words. He wouldn't concede to the reality of his weakening eyesight until just before Christmas when, courtesy of Gene, he found 10 pairs of $14 eyeglasses in his stocking.

Yes, he's a visionary. … though sometimes he needs a nudge to see.

You really think, if he has his mind, wallet, ego and reputation set on another Super Bowl, he's going to be nudged in the wrong direction, by the hatred of others, to fail?

DONUT 6: Jerry has a powerful intellect. This is often mislabeled, even by those who know him well, as "salesmanship'' or "business acumen.'' (And by those who don't know him, his "powerful intellect'' is mistaken for "stupidity.'' Maybe it's the accent?) Jimmy Johnson last week talked at the Super Bowl of how Jerry is "the best businessman I've never known.'' Those descriptions are too broad.

Jerry Jones' parents, Pat and Arminta, were both high-school valedictorians. When Jerry was a senior at Arkansas, he was playing on the National Championship team, he was a husband (having married Gene, a Miss Arkansas winner), he was a father, he was a vice-president of his dad's insurance agency, and when he walked through that graduation line, Arkansas handed him his undergraduate degree and his Masters Degree … at the same time.

That's not just "work ethic'' or "salesmanship'' or "a knack.'' All that requires brilliance.

DONUT 7: Jerry has duality as a "sportsman'' and a "businessman.'' Jones once told me that in the very same week, he purchased a Lear Jet sight unseen ("I trusted the guy, so I did it over the phone'') and decided against overpaying for a pair of dress shoes he really wanted after visiting the shoe store three times. He spent his own money to make the upgrades to Cowboys Stadium just-so ("just-so,'' at least until The Snow Bowl was staged) but he also quizzes long-time administrative assistant Marilyn Love on the cost of pencils and coffee filters at Valley Ranch.

"I couldn't look myself in the mirror every morning if I didn't run the Cowboys like a business that I was trying to win at,'' Jerry has told me. "But I also couldn't look myself in the mirror if I didn't run it like a football team that's trying to win every game.''

What's that line from "North Dallas Forty''? "Every time I call it a game, you call it a business. And every time I call it a business, you call it a game.''

Jerry sees no conflict. The game is his business. His business is the game.

DONUT 8: Jones is resilient in the face of criticism of the times when he does err.

And by the way: The excess-seating gaffe? He and the NFL did goof up there.

The response to the most inclement stretch of winter weather ever experienced in this region? That's not an error. The weather caused a trickle-down effect (or an "ice-and-snow down effect,'' if you happened to be standing alongside Cowboys Stadium at just the wrong time). Buses were late. Parties were cancelled. Golf dates were ruined. People were inconvenienced … and as the leaders of the coming Super Bowl in Indianapolis are now on record promising that nothing will go wrong with their Big Game, let me tell you …

DONUT 9: I was there in 2000, when the Super Bowl was held in Atlanta and NFL star Ray Lewis was involved at some level in the stabbing deaths of two men. I was there in 1989, when the Super Bowl was held in Miami and the Overtown Riots broke out. That same year, I was covering the World Series in the Bay Area when it was interrupted by an earthquake. A total of 63 people died.

I mention those because a) Knowing all that, Indianapolis will guarantee nothing will go wrong? And b) Knowing all that, people are calling snow and missing seats "a tragedy''?

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has announced that the league, Mother Nature and whoever else conspired to make this Super Bowl such an infamous challenge is at fault, not Jones. But you watch: Jerry will fix this. He has a chance to make good – to make himself look good, to be frank. He doesn't often forfeit those chances.

DONUT 10: You need to know about the force of his personality. The people who run the NFL understand this. It's why the Super Bowl will be back to North Texas; Jerry can will it to be so. Players and business partners and employees and Jones family members know this; spend five minutes in the room with Jerry Jones and, after your eyes cease rolling at his corny enthusiasm, you realize that the corny enthusiasm is REAL.

So real that you begin to feel corny enthusiasm, too. The NFL owners who bought into the notion of a Super Bowl in North Texas felt it. They will be made to feel it again.

The millions of NFL fans who need someone to blame (for the snowy Super Bowl and for the coming labor strife) have their bullseye lined up. It's Jerry … and he cannot sit in a room with all of them and shake their hand and smile that crooked smile. He will have to endure the abuse as he has ever since he fell off that Arkansas melon wagon onto a Dallas highway and bounced down the hill into Valley Ranch.

He will endure the abuse … and he might even try to shake millions of hands.

Back in 1950, Pat Jones purchased a new automobile and left it at the local service station to be checked over. When Pat, 7-year-old Jerry and other relatives returned, they were outraged to discover the service-station owner had, when backing the car out of the garage, accidentally ripped the car door from its hinges.

"No one feels worse about it than he does,'' said Pat, calming his angry family. "We can have a friend for life here, or an enemy for life.''

Jerry has never forgotten what happened next.

Pat Jones spent one minute quietly speaking with the man. "Don't you worry about it,'' Pat told the service guy. Magical words to Jerry, who noticed that for the rest of that service-station owner's life, when he needed groceries or life insurance or anything else that one of Pat's businesses offered, the man bought them from Pat. A friend for life.

DONUT 11: The NFL world is slightly larger than Little Rock. Jerry would say those magical words to turn enemies into friends to millions of football fans if he could. "Don't you worry about it.''

Those words will not drown out the boos that are sure to come. But Jones will try. "Don't you worry about it,'' he will say. He will be resilient and brilliant and he will fix this. … and you will boo.

He will try to pacify the opportunistic idiocy of the displaced Super Bowl attendees who are now filing lawsuits against him. The NFL is offering those fans free tickets to future Super Bowls, roundtrip airfare and lodging and three times the face value of their screwed-up tickets.

Is that enough? What would pacify them? How much would it take?

I asked those questions hypothetically the other day, and now we have our answer:


A couple of anti-Jerry lawsuits are already in the hopper of jurisprudence. One of them claims that two "victims'' have been "damaged by … concealment of the cruel truth.'' Another federal case features plaintiffs, Mike Dolabi of Tarrant County and Steve Simms of Pennsylvania.

They are asking for damages totaling $5 million.

DONUT 12: I am sympathetic to Jerry here. So I am willing to do my part. In addition to the "victims'' being given money and airfare and hotel rooms and Super Bowl tickets, hereby offers to all 400 wronged fans a LIFETIME MAVS PREMIUM SUBSCRIPTION. That's a dime-a-day … FOREVER!

Maybe that will help. Or maybe Jerry Jones will continue to hear a chorus of boos. And Jerry Jones will continue to be demonized. And Jerry Jones will be continue to be sued. Even by the locals, he will be remembered, wrongly, for doing something wrong.

Until the inevitable moment when he wins again by bringing another Super Bowl to North Texas.

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