Jerry Jones has owned the Dallas Cowboys for 25 years. According to Forbes.com, the franchise is currently worth $2.3 billion, $500 million more than any other NFL team (the Patriots are next at $1.8 billion).
That figure is mind-boggling for a couple reasons. First, Jones bought the Cowboys in 1989 for $140 million. Second, despite being known as "America's Team," the Cowboys have done little in recent years to earn the nickname. The club has had back-to-back-to-back 8-8 records and haven't made the playoffs under coach Jason Garrett, who took over for Wade Phillips in 2010.
But in a game where success is measured by regular-season records and postseason appearances, Jones has found a way to make a lot of money in the absence of wins. And on some level, he seems OK with that.
Back in April, during a conference announcing that AT&T Stadium would host the 50th annual Academy of Country Music Awards in April 2015, Jones had this to say about the Cowboys' incredible popularity despite, you know, all the mediocrity.
“As you know, the Cowboys have not gone to the playoffs in several years,” the owner said. “We have not gone, yet we're the most popular TV show there is on television. We lead all teams in TV ratings. We lead, 24 of the last top 25 shows were NFL games, and any time your Cowboys play they're up there at the top and leading. Now, what causes that? What causes that is creating some aura, creating some excitement. We want to use that as best we can to make this award show the greatest ever.”
Put another way: Winning, it turns out, isn't everything. Just something to keep in mind as you peruse the graphic below. It breaks down all 32 NFL franchises by owner's age, when ownership was assumed, and the franchise's net worth.
And while Jones, 71, doesn't have plans to step down any time soon, when he does, the team will remain in the family; son Stephen Jones currently serves as Chief Operating Officer, Executive Vice President and Director of Player Personnel, daughter Charlotte Anderson is also an Executive Vice President, and Jerry Jones Jr. is the chief sales and marketing officer.
According to this Dallas Morning News story from 2012, in the early 1990s, Jerry Jones transferred limited partnership interests to Stephen, Charlotte and Jerry Jr., giving them what he called “serious skin in the game."
The owner also said in the 2012 article that, “I'm very confident that if I got hit by a truck tomorrow, we've got a great succession plan. Everybody here understands football, loves it, is not really interested in anything else in sports and has tunnel vision relative to football.”
This echoes what CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora wrote Thursday about ownership succession plans for 13 NFL teams, including the Cowboys.
- Data via Forbes.com
* While ownership remains with the estates of the Titans, Bills and Buccaneers, we will use the original dates Bud Adams, Ralph Wilson and Malcolm Glazer assumed ownership of their respective franchises. Once new ownership, familial (see Lions and Raiders, for example) or otherwise, is established, we reset the counter.
** John Mara, 59, and Steve Tisch, 65, each own 50 percent of the Giants. We've included them jointly above and used their average age, 62.
*** The Packers are a publicly traded, non-profit company owned by its shareholders. There is no majority owner. In fact, to prevent a majority ownership situation, the number of shares an individual can purchase is limited.