The Fab 50
Jerry Jones is our Pied Piper.
The Dallas Cowboys' owner has passionately hypnotized us into ditching Tom Landry, embracing Terrell Owens, believing Pacman Jones and, coming soon, leaving Texas Stadium.
Not surprisingly—considering his unique combination of money and moxie—Jerry Jones has also marched straight to the top of the Dallas Observer's 2008 list of the 50 Most Powerful People in Metroplex Sports. In the list's three-year history, Jones has been ranked No. 1 twice.
Because, if you haven't noticed, he gets what he wants, when he wants.
In the past year, Jones lured Arkansas and Texas A&M into playing their annual college football series in his new $1 billion Jonestown coliseum in Arlington, leaving Dallas' Cotton Bowl with East Central State (Oklahoma) versus Texas A&M-Commerce Division II table scraps. He's convinced Dallas Mavericks' owner Mark Cuban, long an opponent of the corporate showcase, to consider hosting an NBA All-Star Weekend in the new joint. And though no other NFL team had the balls to pursue Pacman, the old oil wildcatter jumped at the risk.
The best indicator of Jones' power: Who else could oversee a franchise without a playoff win in 12 years and unveil the most expensive ticket prices in the history of sports, only for the team to somehow re-surface with enduring popularity and be the NFC favorite to play in this year's Super Bowl?
On to the list, in descending order of power:
50. Tom Landry: The day he falls off this list is the day we all catch a flight to Hades in a wicker carry-on.
49. Adam Jones: "Pacman" or not, the volatile cornerback has the potential to derail the Cowboys' Super Bowl train.
48. Larry Lundy: President of the Dallas All-Sports Association throws the city's glitziest black-tie party.
47. Jamey Newberg: Dallas attorney and Rangers fanatic influences fan and even franchise opinions via his Newberg Report.
46. Bob Sambol: His Bob's Steak & Chop House is one-stop shopping for athletes seeking delicious steaks and not-too-shabby scenery.
45. Nancy Lieberman: The undisputed first lady of Dallas sports is becoming a vital voice on ESPN.
44. Dr. Kenneth Cooper: Our home-grown "Father of Modern Aerobics" now has a fitness satellite in McKinney's Craig Ranch.
43. Jay Lombardo: If you see athletes wearing anything but their uniforms, they probably got it from Lombardo's Custom Apparel in Addison.
42. Tim Cowlishaw: Lead columnist at Dallas' Only Daily has also won a time or two on ESPN's Around the Horn.
41. Pat Summerall: NFL's former signature voice remains a marketable personality going strong in Southlake.
40. Gordon Jago: Director of The Dallas Cup does more for local soccer than Schellas Hyndman and Kenny Cooper combined.
39. Chuck Dannis: Year after year he successfully runs the area's biggest participant sporting event, the White Rock Marathon.
38. Terdema Ussery: Cozy with NBA commish David Stern and Nike founder Phil Knight, the Mavs' president is often the eye of Mark Cuban's hurricane.
37. Jordan Woy: Dallas-based agent represents Cowboys tight end Jason Witten and more than 75 NFL players.
36. Mike Modano: Is this his final year on the list?
35. Matt Doherty: Time for SMU's basketball coach to justify the $12 million facelift to Moody Coliseum.
34. Rickie Rush: T.D. Jakes starter kit influences several athletes as the pastor of Inspiring Body of Christ Church near Duncanville.
33. Brenden Morrow: Announced his arrival during the Stars' impassioned playoff run.
32. Ron Washington: On the verge of being fired, Rangers' manager was saved by injuries to vets and ensuing influx of youth.
31. Brad Sham: Still the most recognizable voice in Dallas.
30. Steve Orsini: SMU athletic director lured June Jones from Hawaii by convincing private boosters to fund a five-year, $10 million contract.
29. Mike Rhyner: Despite losing longtime partner Greg Williams, The Ticket patriarch has kept The Hardline a ratings monster.
28. Dave Tippett: Stars' head coach proved the power of perseverance.
27. Roger Staubach: Captain America still basking in the glow of helping Arlington land Super Bowl XLV.
26. Gerald Ford/Carl Sewell: SMU's biggest athletic boosters annually keep the program from slipping to NAIA quality.
25. Rudy Jaramillo: Regardless of manager, general manager or rebuilding project, the one constant in Arlington is that the Rangers' hitting coach will have Texas scoring runs in bunches.
24. Troy Aikman: Without his hands-on NASCAR ownership or his Ford dealership on Central Expressway, his clout is slipping.
23. Michael Young: Still the face of the Rangers franchise, he'll be counted on for the biggest hits and best leadership if Texas is to contend into the fall.
22. Marty Turco: Stars goalie finally won a playoff series and re-introduced Dallas to springtime hockey.
21. Michael Johnson: Back to relevance by returning an Olympic gold medal and training athletes such as Darren McFadden at his state-of-the-art facility in McKinney.
20. Stephen Jones: Heir to the Cowboys' throne has his fingerprints all over new stadium.
19. Michael Irvin: Hall of Famer making a splash as ESPN Radio rookie by landing interviews with controversial figures.
18. Jon Daniels: After a slow start, the Rangers' young GM has orchestrated several boffo trades now paying dividends at major-league level.
17. Jason Kidd: If he doesn't lead Mavs to a title next season, he'll be responsible for ruining the franchise twice.
16. June Jones: Among college football's Top 15 highest-paid coaches, the new SMU guru is charged with working one of his makeover miracles.
15. Don Hooton: When Major League Baseball launched its war on steroids, it started with a $1 million grant to his Taylor Hooton Foundation.
14. Dale Hansen/Norm Hitzges/Randy Galloway: The metroplex's Mount Gushmore is most responsible for shaping local sports opinions.
13. Rick Carlisle: With basically the same players, Ivory Johnson promises better results than his Mavs predecessor.
12. Wade Phillips: Coming off 13 wins and providing 13 Pro Bowlers, it's Super Bowl-or-bust for the Cowboys' head coach.
11. Eddie Gossage: The face of NASCAR in Texas has crafted year-round racin' in Fort Worth.
10. Nolan Ryan: Big Tex's presence as president has already upgraded Rangers from morose to mediocre.
9. Terrell Owens: Despite the drops and untimely injuries, the Cowboys' offense would be pedestrian without him.
8. Josh Hamilton: No Ranger this decade has brought the franchise more positive publicity than the recent Sports Illustrated cover boy.
7. Jon Heidtke: Wouldn't recognize him on the street, but the FOX Sports Net Southwest senior vice president makes the Mavs, Rangers and Stars decisions you recognize nightly on TV.
6. Mark Cuban: Still without a championship trophy, but he may soon own lovable losers in two major leagues with the Mavs and Chicago Cubs.
5. Hank Haney: Only Erykah Badu's voice consultant has a better job than Tiger Woods' swing coach.
4. Dirk Nowitzki: The Mavs could stay afloat for a while without Cuban. But sans this guy, they're instantly a lottery team.
3. Tom Hicks: Despite a surprising Stars playoff run, his ownership finagling pissed off franchises on both sides of the big pond.
2. Tony Romo: What other player without a single playoff victory could merit front-page headlines with a quick trip to Mexico?
1. Jerry Jones: From reclamation projects like Pacman to unprecedented coliseums like Jonestown, the Cowboys' owner does what he damn well pleases.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Observer's biggest stories.