The theory is that Jerry Jones is never in the same room at the same time with Vince McMahon because they are actually the same guy. It’s a joke, but it has legs.
They are both former athletes — we forget Jerry was an offensive lineman at Arkansas — who turned their passion for sports into the family business, and made billions in the process. They both appear to — what is the nice way to say this? — have had some work done to retain some of their youthful appearance (no judgment). They both thrive on risk and an OPEC-ian amount of energy reserves.
“There are some similarities in the two men,” McMahon, the chairman and CEO of WWE, told me. “I am the luckiest man in the world today. He may be the second luckiest.”
And there is a good chance that these two have figured out a way to defeat death. We need to accept that Jerry will outlive us all, and I asked McMahon how much longer he plans to run WWE.
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“’Til I die,” he said. “And since I’m never going to die …”
He’s not kidding, and he might be right.
I don’t normally do wrestling, but Tuesday’s announcement that WrestleMania 32 is coming to Jerry World on April 3, 2016, mandated an appearance to test the theory that Jerry is Vince. Conclusion? Unclear. Jerry did not show up, but the smartest Jones did — daughter Charlotte.
An “insider” told me that Jerry, who is at the Senior Bowl evaluating the incoming draft class (which is still scary after all of these years), didn’t want to be at “that circus.”
The one glaring difference between the two? With an eye-contact, folksy sense of humor and Arkansas accent, Jerry oozes charm. With a gravelly voice and a stern countenance, Vince oozes intimidation.
Here we are in 2015, and the landscape of sports has changed forever because of these two men. You can argue that sports is not better off because of their influences, but their impacts have been California-sized quakes to Texas-sized tremors.
As a result, the line between sports and entertainment has never been more blurred. It has all become a circus, right down to the media that cover it.
That is the Jerry McMahon effect.
“We do put smiles on people’s faces,” McMahon said. “I know that’s what Jerry has mentioned — he wants to entertain and will go to almost any length to entertain, and therein again there are a lot of similarities.”
For those of you who remember the Dave Campo era, you may not agree with Vince that Jerry will go to any length to entertain.
These men are part P.T. Barnum, and part Rupert Murdoch. They know what you really want and they are not afraid to sell it. Few men in sports or sports entertainment have understood and played the media any better than these guys. Few men understood the value of their own content and the ability to recognize what moves us — stories and personality.
In this interview, McMahon mentioned WWE in the same breath as a Broadway show. In a previous interview, Jerry mentioned that a Vegas show, specifically Celine Dion’s, would be similar to attending a Cowboys game at AT&T Stadium.
McMahon’s XFL died after one year, but many of the innovations from that football league were widely adopted, beginning with increased behind-the-scenes footage, access and unique content that every league has since put a proprietary claim on. So many of Jerry’s ideas have been implemented in the league that it will likely put him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame for his business innovations alone.
To be clear, Vince readily admits he is not selling what Jerry is selling.
“There is no athlete that will tell you it’s a sport — they will all tell you they are entertainers,” McMahon said. “We are all entertainers. That’s what we are. Sports is entertainment, but we are different because we know what we are. We get to write our own stories and our own outcomes. In sports, you cover what happens. It’s far more difficult to be able to write what you hope is going to happen and get the result.”
What these two men got since Day One is that pro sports is not basketball, baseball or football. It’s Broadway, Vegas and Hollywood. The only difference is the script: one is written. The rest is virtually the same.
You can argue that the increased cross pollination of sports and entertainment has worked against the big-time leagues in this country. You can argue that it’s overboard and that the entertainment element is damaging the sports.
What you can’t argue is that the vision and effect that Jerry and Vince have had on sports is colossal.
And you might not be able to argue that Jerry Jones is not actually Vince McMahon.
Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Wednesday from 5:30-10 a.m. with Shan & RJ on 105.3 The Fan.
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Twitter: @macengelprof and The Big Mac Blog