On Saturday night, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones took his victory lap. After nearly 30 years as owner of the Cowboys, many of them spent in conflict with the league, team personnel or DFW sports fans, Jones received football's highest individual honor: induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
Jones, cheered on by the current Cowboys team, as well as stars and coaches from throughout his tenure, gave the speech anyone who's followed him would've expected him to give. It was funny, self-aggrandizing at times and just humble enough when needed to be charming.
Here are the five best bits from Jones' 36-minute speech.
1. Jerry tells everyone about the moment he decided to buy the Cowboys.
"In 1988, I was on a fishing trip with my son in Mexico. And for some reason, the next morning I got up and I was feeling pretty rough. I don't know why, but I was drinking a lot of coffee, and I was reading the paper when I learned that the Dallas Cowboys were for sale. I found a phone in the lobby and I got someone on the other end of the connection. And I said, 'You don't know me from Adam; my name is Jerry Jones and if I live to make it back to the United States, I'm going to buy the Dallas Cowboys.' Hangover be damned. I really though was intoxicated with the idea of being with the NFL."
2. While Jones was in a good mood, he couldn't help tweaking the NFL about the time it sued him for signing an exclusive sponsorship deal with Nike.
"I did things that were sometimes against the grain, and sometimes it rubbed people the wrong way. We introduced [Nike founder] Phil Knight and Nike and the league sued me for $300 million when I did it. I had to turn around and sue the league back for $700 million at the time. We got that all worked out real quick, but I sure wanted Nike to be a part of the NFL, and aren't we glad that they are?"
3. Showing it's easy to be gracious in victory, Jones gave credit to Jimmy Johnson, his longtime nemesis, for building the Cowboys' three Super Bowl championships in the '90s.
"I wanted someone I knew. I wanted someone I knew well. I wanted someone that could get it done to be our coach. I wanted Jimmy Johnson. I said he'd be worth five first-round draft choices or five Heisman Trophy winners, and I sure did near get run out of town when I said it.
I was my first experience as an owner and a general manager, and I made a difficult and very unpopular decision [to fire Tom Landry]. Jimmy, it was a great decision. You were a great teammate; you were a great partner, to the contrary of popular belief. We worked so well together for five years and restored the Cowboys' popularity with our fans."
4. Jones gave an unexpected shoutout to Herschel Walker, the star running back the Cowboys traded to the Vikings for five players and eight draft picks in October 1989. It was the trade upon which the Cowboys dynasty was built, something Jones acknowledged Saturday.
"I want to mention Herschel Walker. Herschel did not have to accept the trade that sent him to Minnesota for the draft picks that allowed us to really build the Dallas Cowboys. But he did. We worked it out. He later returned to the Cowboys. But the thing I want to thank him for — and why I’m so indebted to him — is the willingness to help us have ammo to build a great team. Herschel, I’ll always thank you very much."
5. Jones acknowledged the debt the Cowboys owe their recently departed quarterback, Tony Romo, too.
"No quarterback in Cowboys history was asked to carry as much of the load for his team as Tony. He beat all of the odds and delivered some of the most remarkable plays and unforgettable performances in our team history."
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