Who is Jerry Jones?

Where it began

Jerry Jones’ go-getter personality, and innovative demeanor were put on display at an early age. According to an interview with D Magazine, Pat Jones, father and owner of the grocery store Jerry Jones worked for, was a hands-on owner who would do just about anything to please his customers. Jerry Jones recalls a time his father walked around in cowboy gear, which included guns and a holster to encourage customers to make purchases at his store (Stephenson, 2013). His father’s main goal was to sell the product or service.  So the nine-year-old boy dressed in white with a bow tie became his father’s number one salesman. Jones recalls pushing carts around for customers whom he thought might tip him some extra change. From then on, his family knew he was going to flourish in the future.

University of Arkansas

At 182 pounds, Jerry Jones was not your prototypical offensive lineman. In 1964, the season the University of Arkansas Razorbacks won a NCAA  Football National Championship, Jones was a co-captain. For a co-captain he had an unusual set of characteristics. Bill Ferrell, the University of Arkansas athletic trainer said to Jones, “I believe you have the lowest tolerance for pain of any kid we have ever had at this school,” (Stephenson, 2013) but Jones wasn’t enclosed in his thoughts.

“I’m different from these other guys. I feel more, I see more, I talk more. I just have a lot more feelings than these other guys” (Stephenson, 2013).

After posting a perfect regular season record, the Arkansas Razorbacks met the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the national championship game. Although overpowered by the Nebraska defensive linemen, Jones was determined to help lead his team to a national championship; and so he did.  The Razorbacks ended up winning a low-scoring, close game by three points.

The following year he graduated from the university with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration, and later earned a Master of Arts degree. He used his heart-felt, determined, adaptable and innovative mind to not only excel in the classroom and on the football field, but also outside of the university.

Before Jerral Wayne Jones became “Jerry”

  • Shakey’s Pizza Parlor in Missouri
  • Modern Security of Life Springfield, Missouri
  • Jones Oil and Land Lease

The San Diego Chargers

Jerry Jones had an aspiration for owning a professional football team and thinks back on the time he almost bought the San Diego Chargers:

I met with Hilton. He wanted $5.8 million for the Chargers. I went to Kansas City to visit Lamar Hunt, who treated me like a Rockefeller even though I didn’t have any money. Lamar went over all the financials of the team and the league. He told me there was no TV money for the AFL and that the Chargers and everyone else were losing money. He told me that despite that, they were going to compete with the NFL and spend money and sign the best college players. I knew the financials didn’t look good. But I wanted to do it.

Then I met with my father. He asked me what in the world I was doing. He told me I was supposed to be working in the insurance business and that I still had the pizza-parlor deal to work out. He told me to let football go, that by my own admission the Chargers wouldn’t work financially. He told me, “I hate to see you start life behind the eight ball.”

And though I had the financing in place, I finally agreed with my dad and decided not to do it. Now, of course, just a few months later, the AFL and the NFL merged. The value of the Chargers skyrocketed. What I could have had for $5.8 million was then sold for over $11 million. My dad told that story for the rest of his life, how he had talked me out of earning millions at age 25. I was disappointed, but I knew I was still on track to reach my ambition (Burke, 2012).

Despite missing out on what seemed like a “once in a lifetime” opportunity, Jerry Jones ran right into another one years later.

The Dallas Cowboys

When Jerry Jones bought the Dallas Cowboys for $160 million, the team was losing $1 million dollars monthly, which included interest payments that were as high as eleven percent. Although, these numbers appeared troubling to handle, Jones promptly dealt with the cash flow problems. He searched for new ways to create revenue, and the rest is in the books.

Jerry was devoted, and is still devoted to making the Dallas Cowboys the most profitable franchises in the history of sports, let alone the National Football League (NFL). He turned the organization into a $4.2 billion franchise. While improving his franchise, he continued to do a lot to make professional football a relevant sport in America and the world. He showed teams how to make money off of training camps, he showed owners why they should sell sponsorships within their stadiums, and he “triggered a concentric boom of football-centric stadiums” (Gosselin, 2016).  He’s always looking for the next big thing, and isn’t afraid to take risks.

Today’s NFL: The Blackout Rule

What is the 72 hour rule?

The 72 hour rule allows NFL organizations to deny local television broadcasters (within 75 miles of the stadium) the rights to televise games if those particular matchups fail to sell out 85% of the seats in the stadium within 72 hours of kickoff. This rule was imposed to protect the financial interests of sports teams.

However, since the rule was established in 1961 the NFL has developed into one of the most watched, and highly publicized sports in North America and overseas. No longer is there a need for the 72 hour rule because stadium revenues, which include ticket sales, account for a fraction of the total revenue generated by professional football teams. Corporate sponsorships, merchandising, and licensing are some of the more profitable financial mechanisms to lead to increased profits by the NFL.

The good news

The NFL suspended the blackout rule for the 2015 and 2016 seasons and is currently re-evaluating the rule for the 2017 season.

Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal reported that before the decision to suspend the rule was finalized in 2015, the league had already seen a diminishing value of the rule.  Kaplan points out that there were no blackouts in 2014, and only two in 2013. He also notes, the average attendance per game dropped only 0.5 percent.

The continuance of the suspension, or a repeal of the rule altogether will greatly benefit the fans of cities with professional football teams. With increasing ticket prices, the experience is becoming more and more costly and having the opportunity to still watch your team play at least eight times a season is invaluable.

What lies ahead

If you are like me, and you were born and raised in Iowa where there are no current professional football teams then the blackout rule doesn’t pertain to you. You’ll just have to watch the nationally televised games in your respected region slotted for Sundays unless you are willing to purchase the NFL Sunday Package from your respective TV provider.

If you live right next to an NFL stadium, you should be relieved to hear that regardless of if the rule remains intact after the upcoming decision preceding the 2017 season, the availability of local games shouldn’t be affected via Kaplan.

One and Done: Right or Wrong?

Kobe Bryant will go down as one of the most successful basketball players in the history of the National Basketball League (NBA). He’s third all time on the NBA career scoring list behind all time greats Kareem Abdul-Jabbar anKobe Bryantd Karl Malone and has won five NBA championships, which is unprecedented in today’s standards. He is an icon in the sports world and a role model for aspiring athletes, but what makes him stand out the most from some of the other greats is that he entered the NBA after high school graduation. Now that is impossible. Athletes must be removed from high school for a minimum of one year before they can enter the NBA draft. While this may not seem like a huge deal, this restriction has many drawbacks on a player’s overall well-being. Imagine if Kobe Bryant had to wait a year to enter the NBA. He could have suffered a catastrophic injury, he could have been drafted to a different team in a different situation, or he could have missed out on millions of dollars throughout his career. Although these statements are a bunch of “what ifs,” they are a major concern for potential athletes. With that being said, the question is should prospective professional basketball players have the choice to forego college sports to enter the NBA?

College is a place for someone to improve their appeal towards potential employers, seek higher potential earnings, make connections, and aim for a healthier and happier life (Beckstead, 2017). But what if one doesn’t need the extra edCleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks - Game Oneucation to be successful? Some of the most successful people in the world, such as Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Dave Thomas, and Michael Dell dropped out of or didn’t even attend
college; LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, and Kobe Bryant are some of the most successful athletes to forego attending college to pursue a professional sports career. Is it fair to prevent someone from being employed in a sector they excel in and are passionate about?

Since 2006, high school basketball players have been required to either play college basketball or play overseas for a minimum of one year. According to Thomas (2012), a former professional basketball player and current ESPN writer, “If schools are going to treat basketball like a business, they should treat it like a business from top to bottom and college athletes should be paid. Or, as I’ve argued all along, they should be allowed to go to the NBA, where they can be paid” (para.17). In response to Thomas, college players and many others have been advocating for a salary in college. They claim that free tuition and room and board do not equate to the value of their services to the colleges. Paying college athletes is a good solution to the current age restriction problem, but the alternative, getting rid of the age restriction not only benefits athletes but lessens the negative impact the NCAA might experience if they begin to pay their student athletes. While one can only speculate, if the NCAA ends up paying college athletes then they might as well let them enter the professional leagues because initially the NCAA may see a decrease in revenue due to the amount of money they have to allocate to the athletes.

Secondly, it has been debated whether some NBA procedures including draft eligibility rules violate antitrust laws. Antitrust laws were developed by the government to ensure that fair competition exists in an open market economy. For example, “In a perfectly competitive professional football labor market, there would be many football leagues for a potential football player to choose from, and clubs within individual leagues would have the ability to select any potential player” (Hernandez, 2013, p.19). This statement is also applicable to the NBA. A near perfect competitive market would eliminate any current concerns regarding antitrust laws because one league would be unable to prohibit trade between leagues. Since there would be several other leagues players could join, an attempt by one league to implement rules players dislike wouldn’t be an issue because those players could decide to leave the league and play elsewhere, where conditions are similar. This is a problem that has risen not only in the NFL but also the NBA. In regards to prospective athletes, the current NBA eligibility rules limit competition by preventing players who do not satisfy any of the eligibility requirements:

  • All drafted players must be at least 19 years of age during the calendar year of the draft
  • Any player who is not an international player, as defined in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, must be at least one year removed from the graduation of his high school class
  • They have completed 4 years of their college eligibility.
  • If they graduated from high school in the U.S. but did not enroll in a U.S. college or university and four years have passed since their high school class graduated.
  • They have signed a contract with a professional basketball team outside of the NBA, anywhere in the world, and have played under that contract. They also must be released from their contract before they can leave college to go to the NBA.

This prevents prospective players from competing for a roster position with any NBA team. Hernandez (2013), explains how having these constraints results in a limited pool of players and a decreased level of competition for each available roster spot on an NFL team (p.20-21). This is especially true if the players rejected would be able to play at a high level in the NBA. Therefore, the NBA’s eligibility rules limit competition to obtain a spot on the team.

The counterargument has suggested that keeping age restrictions are beneficial to players. They suggest players would get a chance to work on their craft, become educated, and learn to prepare for an independent life away from their parents. 

In an interview with Klosterman (2014), Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner stated:

“Their principal argument is that it’s a restriction on players. And as a philosophical argument, I totally understand that. Of course it’s a restriction, in the same way a draft is a restriction. But our view is that it would make for a better league. You’d have more skilled players, more mature players. The draft would be better. It would be better for basketball in general. Strong college basketball is great for the NBA. And we know those players are eventually going to come to the NBA, whether they are 19 or 20 or 21.”

SilverAlthough Adam Silver offers some valuable information in regards to the current eligibility rules, there is one issue he didn’t fully address. While his argument is strong, he fails to focus on how prolonged college stays would continue to benefit prospective players who think they are ready to make the jump to the NBA. The benefits associated with an age increase seem to be only helping the colleges, leagues, and their owners. Staying in college for a couple years might not seem like a big deal, but it has costly consequences.

One of those consequences is the effects an age restriction has on an athlete’s lifetime earnings. For example a top draft prospect can make a maximum of five million dollars per year over a four year span (Watave, 2016, p.3). Entering the NBA draft at twenty as opposed to nineteen would cost a player approximately ten million dollars over those first couple years, minus potential endorsements they are not allowed to pursue in college. The biggest effects on a player’s salary come when they receive their second contract (Watave, 2016, p.6). If they are proven stars they can earn upwards to fifteen million dollars a year, and requiring athletes to stay in college could result in a player losing out substantial amounts of money.

Secondly, college athletes are susceptible to academic clustering. Academic clustering is when athletes gravitate towards similar majors. In a study done on academic clustering, it was found that athletes may be encouraged to pursue a degree with their sport as a priority (Schneider et al, 2010). Advisors may persuade the athletes to choose an “easy” major, or the athletes may choose a major that works best with their schedule. In many cases, athletes aren’t choosing a major that interests or challenges them, but instead, they are choosing a major that will keep them eligible on the court.

Although waiting a year or two might not seem like such a long time, the opportunity cost of someone forgoing one or two years in the NBA is substantial. If their hearts are set on pursuing a professional sports career, not only are they losing out on millions of dollars, but they are losing out on a meaningful education. Higher up education is extremely valued in sectors like health and business, but in the entertainment industry it’s more about physical and psychological aspects like strength, speed, agility, spacial awareness, determination, and confidence. So why should an athlete’s path to an emotionally and financially happy life be the same as the path to a completely unrelated job?

 Prospective athletes face many risks by extending their pre-professional career an extra couple of years. However, this is a choice that each individual has to make. They have to decide whether they want a college degree, whether they want to forego making millions of dollars, whether they want to risk injury, and most importantly whether they want to go pro. This issue isn’t a matter of who is right and who is wrong, but how the two sides can compromise. A proposal that benefits both of the sides is just one of many compromises that should be presented to the leagues and the public in hopes of finding a solution to the current problem.