When Jerry Jones gave up all of his money to buy the Dallas Cowboys in 1989 years ago, his primary focus was to win.
With three Super Bowl titles in the first seven years, Jones won big — early and often.
He has since left his mark on the league as an executive and power broker in the areas of marketing, television, and stadiums that he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2017.
But life has a way of bringing you full circle and three decades later, including the last 23 without the Cowboys even sniffing a Super Bowl title.
Now Jones, richer than ever with the most valuable franchise in sports, is admittedly more desperate and hungry than ever.
“That’s fair. That’s really fair. And that’s real,” Jones said on his Cowboys bus outside the Indianapolis Marriott during a 50-minute break from the NFL Scouting Combine. “This is my 30th combine and I don’t have 30 more. I’ve made them all and it’s a big thing to evaluate and put the team together. So I’m running out of combines. So it’s more urgent than it was sitting here visiting with you 20 years ago. So yes, it is more urgent.”
Jones said winning again matters greatly to him because it’s the root of his existence with the Cowboys.
“That was the only reason that I got involved to begin with and that’s been reinforced,” Jones said. “I feel compelled, I don’t know why I do, but because a lot of what I’ve been associated with has been the promotion and the way the game has evolved during the last 30 years and the way stadiums and the way the game is presented and all of those financial things. I didn’t get involved in the Dallas Cowboys to have more dollars. Matter of fact, I gave up all my dollars. And it did not look like there was a way, a path, to have a good investment when I got involved to win. I must tell you I didn’t know it was going to be as tough. I said we will win the football game. I’m committed to winning the football games.
“There is nothing, absolutely nothing, short of the health and goodwill of the people I care about, there is nothing that means more to me than if I could get a Super Bowl. Nothing.”
He said success and riches will never diminish his desire to win.
“I admire people who have got enough to quit being hungry or quit having something they want to have and they’ve got it and they have peace,” Jones said. “I’ve never been there. My point is, the hunger is for what we’re talking about right now – winning a Super Bowl. Not to get another billion dollars.”
The desire to win a Super Bowl again is paramount, Jones said.
It’s actually more now because of the failures and mediocrity since their last Super Bowl title following the 1995 season. He reiterated a familiar refrain by saying, “not to get a Super Bowl with Tony Romo as our quarterback will always probably be my greatest disappointment.”
Jones felt the Cowboys had something special and they did everything possible to win, used every trick in the book to get there.
He believes they are in a similar spot now with a young team, led by quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott, and he doesn’t want to let this situation slip away.
Yet, Jones continues to stand by coach Jason Garrett.
Jones still refuses to admit that Garrett is on the hot seat with just two playoffs wins in eight full seasons with the Cowboys.
That Jones has him going into the final year of his contract with an extension and coaching for his job has only reinforced that perception, while placating a desperate fan base.
“I just like the dynamics considering the relationship we have, the trust we have in our goals,” Jones said. “It’s well known, the support I have for him. No one, no one breathing wants him to win and win big more than I do, and we haven’t done anything here with what we have done or haven’t done relative to contract. We haven’t done anything to forgo having a long relationship, we haven’t done one thing, by taking our position that we have right now, in my mind. We’ve got a situation I think our fans want.”
But while Jones hopes that Garrett wins a Super Bowl and surpasses Tom Landry as the longest tenured coach in Cowboys history, his urgency makes it urgent for his coach.
“As far as my emphases here or my presence here, I’m running out of time more than I was last year,” Jones said. “Knowing Jason and how he feels about me, or on a personal basis, or how he feels about the team, I’d say there’s going to be more urgency. And I’m sure and I felt he was very urgent last year. We need to grab this while it’s here. It won’t be here forever.”