Rarely has Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones ever been rendered speechless.
But Jones was lost for words when talk turned why he chose his wife Gene to be his presenter when he is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday. The ceremony begins at 6 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN and NFL Network.
And it began with him explaining pillow talk with his wife of 54 years. She has had a front row seat to his rise from being a college football player at Arkansas to an insurance salesman, owner of a Shakey’s Pizza chain, to oil and gas prospecting en route to joining the NFL as a rebellious outsider when he bought the Cowboys in 1989 before morphing into the most powerful man in the NFL and ultimately a Hall of Famer.
Generally, when Jones starts telling stories the listener might as well buckle up because it could end up anywhere.
So when he brought up pillow talk, more than a few ears perked up.
“I’ll never forget pillow talk,” Jones said of his wife, Gene. “Came home, [she] didn’t even look at me. ‘You just can’t, you just can’t leave it alone, can you? Just when it gets really comfortable, you’ve got to shake it up. How in the world is Jimmy (Johnson) not our coach? You just can’t leave it alone.’ So, she’s had some days.”
Jones was then asked what was his answer?
A pause ensued, prompting son Stephen Jones to declare with amazement: “You’re speechless.”
Of course, Gene Jones wanted to know what the world still is waiting to hear.
How could he fire Johnson after leading the Cowboys to back-to-back Super Bowls titles during the 1993-1994 seasons?
Gene Jones has seen a lot, heard a lot, questioned a lot, supported a lot and comforted a lot over the years.
Jones had many options to choose as a presenter, including sons Stephen and Jerry Jr. and daughter Charlotte Jones Anderson, who all work closely with him with the Cowboys.
“I think it was the perfect choice,” said Stephen Jones, the team’s executive vice president in charge of player personnel. “We all know how important our family has been to support Jerry and what he’s doing in the Hall of Fame.
“I think my mother represents all of us, the rest of us other than Jerry, as well as anybody. Somebody I love and respect, and my brother and sister do as well, and we talked through it all and I just think it’s the perfect selection for her to be the one that represents him. She can represent me, she can represent my brother, my sister and it’s just the right choice.”
Gene Jones has been the right choice since they met as freshman in college at Arkansas. The 1960 Miss Arkansas USA and one-time Arkansas Poultry Princess from Danville, Ark., was the prettiest girl Jerry Jones had ever met.
A whirlwind romance ended with them being married after their sophomore year.
And she has been the backbone of the family and Jerry Jones’ home base ever since.
Through financial failures and successes, Gene Jones has been the rock. She was by his side as Jones endured criticism from Cowboys fans and across the NFL during the early parts of his tenure with the Cowboys.
“In the after life, Gene is going to get many jewels on her crown,” said Fred Marshall, Jones’ former Arkansas teammate on the 1964 national championship team. “She deserves a lot of jewels. She has put up with a lot of things. In his professional life, Jerry works 18 hours a day. She has been very loyal.”
Gene Jones has carved her own role with the Cowboys. In 1989, she organized the team’s now annual hospital visits during holidays to visit sick children. She is also co-founder of the Gene and Jerry Jones Family Charities.
But she mainly stays out of the limelight and serves as the home foundation of what is truly a family business.
Being named as the presenter is a well-deserved tip of the cap to Gene Jones and another strokes genius from Jerry Jones, the ultimate salesman.
“We all refer to her as the glue of the family,” Jerry Jones Jr. said. “We are fortunate to get to work together. If you don’t have that bond and love, we all know there can be trying times in a family business. She gives us that core base with family values and family leadership.
“This is so well deserved. She has always been a little more soft spoken. But she is an inspiration to our family. There is no better person than my mother to do this. She deserves as much credit as him for being there. And doesn’t get enough credit. She is a big part of the success of our family and the success of our dad.”
Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement
6 p.m. Saturday (ESPN, NFL Network)
Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, Canton, Ohio
Class of 2017: Jerry Jones, Kenny Easley, LaDainian Tomlinson, Terrell Davis, Kurt Warner, Jason Taylor and Morten Andersen.
Dallas Cowboys in the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Years in NFL
Seven others in the Hall have ties to the Cowboys: