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10 things to know about Cowboys’ Jerry Jones, including wild takes, Jimmy Johnson and more

Now in his 35th year of Cowboys ownership, Jones has forged a reputation as one of the NFL’s key characters.

This story has been updated since it originally published on Feb. 24, 2019.

When NFL owners are brought up, Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys certainly dominates conversations.

Now in his 35th year of Cowboys ownership, Jones has forged a reputation as one of the league’s key characters. The Pro Football Hall of Famer is still seeking his fourth Super Bowl victory.

Here are 10 things to know about Jones:


1. Burying the hatchet

For years, NFL fans wondered if Jones would ever make peace with Jimmy Johnson. The former Cowboys coach was key in leading the franchise to two Super Bowl wins in the 1990s, after all.


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In 2023, the long-awaited response finally came. Johnson was finally inducted into the Cowboys Ring of Honor, becoming the 24th member of a cherished club that’s exclusive to some of the best players in NFL history.

Around the time Jones announced DeMarcus Ware’s entry into the Ring of Honor, Jones was peppered with questions about his exclusion of Johnson. According to The Dallas Morning News’ David Moore, Jones told associates he was taken aback by the exchange and began to wonder if keeping Johnson out had unfairly diverted the spotlight from those who were being honored.


Jones and Johnson met in October to talk things through, then an invitation was extended.

“I think, quite honestly, if you look at both of them, they can really appreciate what the fourth quarter means now,” Charlotte Jones said. “When you look in the mirror, you want to be around to celebrate the accomplishments. I think that’s really important for both of them.


“I think that really is what brought them together to say, ‘Hey, we need to do this now. We need to bury the hatchet that created the divide and realize that what we had was special, what we did was special.

“‘Let’s celebrate that one more time.”'

2. He says some crazy stuff

Say this about the owner: He's never afraid to talk to the media. And when that happens they occasionally strike gold with another Jerry-ism. Here are a few:


Topic of conversation: Jones was hyping his team up before training camp when he used the commonly used expression in the oil and gas business.

What he said: "I've been here 23 years. I've been here when it was glory hole days and when it wasn't. I want me some glory hole!"



Topic of conversation: Regarding the negotiations to end the NFL lockout in July 2011

What he said: "We're down to circumcising mosquitoes."

So, what’s the latest crazy saying to come from the Cowboys owner? In 2024, fans would say it’s his declaration to go “all in” over the offseason.

“Your definition of what is all in and mine might not be the same thing,” Jones said at the NFL scouting combine. “But I’m trying to win the games this year with my decision. So I’m all in to this year.”


3. He lost $300,000 on a coin flip

When Jones was buying the Cowboys from H.R. "Bum" Bright, the two had agreed on most terms, but couldn't settle a dispute on who was responsible for an advance Bright made three to four weeks before Jones' purchase of the team, so they agreed to flip a coin for it.

The flip went heads. Bright won. Jones had to pay. Later, once the deal was officially complete, Bright encased the coin, mounted it on a block and gave it to Jones with a message: "You will never know if this is a two-headed coin." The gift remains in Jones' home.

4. Legal issues

According to The News’ Lana Ferguson and Jamie Landers, Jones was at the center of at least three lawsuits as of March.


The longest-pending lawsuit was filed by a woman in 2020 who alleges Jones sexually assaulted her at AT&T Stadium years earlier. The other two lawsuits are tied to a woman who claims Jones is her biological father. She filed suit in a Dallas County court seeking to establish parentage and later filed a defamation lawsuit against him in U.S. district court.

Read more here.

5. The three losses that made him cry

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones talks to the media during a press conference about the Omni...
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones talks to the media during a press conference about the Omni Frisco Hotel at The Star in Frisco, on Tuesday, November 3, 2015. (Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News)

In 2014, Jones said there have only been three losses in his ownership tenure with the Cowboys that have made him cry.

The first: The 1995 NFC Championship game. The 49ers beat the Cowboys 38-28. The Cowboys fell down 21-0 early thanks to three turnovers. "I knew we had the better team," Jones said in 2014.

The second: The 2002 season opener, when the Cowboys lost to the Texans in Houston's first-ever game as a franchise. "I was the leading proponent of getting Houston the team," Jones said. "I wanted those fans to have their own team, even though I knew at that time half of them were Cowboys fans. To go down and get beat on opening night by an expansion team was absolutely a low point."

The third: The 2007 divisional round playoff loss to the Giants. The Cowboys were 13-3 and the No. 1 seed in the NFC. The Giants were a No. 5 seed that went 10-6, but they came out victorious with a 21-17 win. "That's where I went to the place I used to go to when they would call and tell me that I had just lost all of my money on a dry hole,'' Jones said.


6. He almost bought the Chargers instead, despite being 23-years old and not having any money

Illustration by Michael Hogue/The Dallas Morning News
Illustration by Michael Hogue/The Dallas Morning News

As a 23-year-old, Jones nearly bought the San Diego Chargers in 1966.

Fresh out of college, he had secured promises from investors in Missouri and had agreed to a $5.8 million asking price with then-Chargers majority owner Barron Hilton. A newspaper clipping of the possible deal found it’s way back to Pat Jones, Jerry’s father. Pat explained that the AFL was bad business, an unbroken history of negative cash flow. Jerry withdrew his offer. Later that year, the AFL merged with the NFL and Hilton sold the Chargers for $10 million.


7. Believes in his guys

Yes, it’s been a quiet offseason for the Cowboys. That doesn’t mean Jones thinks the team has gotten worse.

Despite another early postseason exit after the 2023-24 campaign, the Cowboys owner has complete faith his squad can return to the promised land. One of the biggest reasons for his optimism is the play of quarterback Dak Prescott.


“I think there are a handful or more of quarterbacks playing who haven’t won a Super Bowl that will win a Super Bowl,’’ Jones said. “I think Dak is one of them. I’m firm there.”

“He’s one of the ones who can.’’

8. Blind date

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones (center), flanked (from left to right) by son Jerry Jr.,...
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones (center), flanked (from left to right) by son Jerry Jr., daughter Charlotte Anderson, wife Gene and son Stephen.(Courtesy Jones family)

Jones met his wife, Gene, a former Miss Arkansas USA, in college at the University of Arkansas. They were on a blind date and then joined some friends at the state fair. Other guys were winning their dates teddy bears. Jerry couldn't. "I tried and tried, but couldn't," Jones told the Dallas Morning News in 1989, "so I went behind and bought her one."

9. "He blew it all on the Cowboys"

When Jones was buying the Cowboys in 1989, the price was $70 million for the franchise, $70 million for the leasing rights and $30 million in overdue bills. Banks, concerned about the Cowboys' finances, would only loan him $34 million.

Jones used $77 million of his money and gave the team a $20 million loan. To guarantee the $34 million loan from the bank he used his own receivables and assets as collateral.


“I was scared to death that my family legacy would be, ‘Dad or Granddad had some money, but he blew it all to buy the Cowboys,’” Jones told The News in 2012.

Jones would later tell ESPN's Adam Schefter that the team was losing $1 million a month when he first bought them.

"The interest alone on the investment in the club was another X-million dollars," he told Schefter. "Eleven percent interest on the amount that I borrowed. It was a bill of about almost $100,000 a day. Now that was going out the door. So, when you got up in the morning, crickets get you up or whatever, whether you got up or not that was going out the door. That'll cause you to get imaginative. That'll cause you to think of some things that maybe hadn't been thought of before."

10. An honest mistake?

Jones is infamous for eating with Jimmy Johnson at Tom Landry’s favorite Mexican food restaurant the day before he would purchase the Cowboys and subsequently fire Landry to hire Johnson. Jerry’s wife Gene said she was inadvertently responsible for the controversy.


Gene used to shop in Dallas and when Jerry was going to Dallas to negotiate the deal, she told Jerry about a little hole-in-the-wall Mexican food place she had found in a recent trip.

“I said it was out of the way and no one would ever see him or recognize him there,” Gene told The News in 1996. “I had no idea it was Tom Landry’s favorite place. That’s really how it happened. There was no deceit involved.”

Bonus: Take a virtual tour of his office

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