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The business of Jerry: 25 moves made by NFL's top power broker

Jerry Jones' rise to the top as the NFL's biggest power broker and owner of the most valuable team in the world is an incredible business story. He made several bold moves in his 28 years as owner of the Dallas Cowboys, some of the most memorable being battles with the league itself in which he ultimately prevailed.

Not only is he worthy of a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame but he'll forever have a spot in being one of the shrewdest people in sports business history. An initial investment of $118 million has turned into a franchise alone worth $4.2 billion, according to an estimate by Forbes.

Jones' life as an owner hasn't always been smooth, but here's a bite-sized look at some of the remarkable things he has accomplished.

1. In February 1966, then-23-year-old Jerry Jones was in discussions with Barron Hilton to buy 80 percent of the San Diego Chargers for $5.8 million. But Jones' father, who took Modern Security Life Insurance Co.'s stock from $2 to $135 a share, discouraged him from doing the deal.

2. Jones made his money in the oil business in Arkansas. He bought oil leases in 1982 for $15 million. After investing $35 million more in drilling and other costs, the company that sold him those leases bought out him and his partner for $175 million in 1986.

3. On Feb. 25, 1989, Jones led the purchase of the Cowboys. He bought 100 percent of the stadium for $65 million. He took over the Cowboys' Valley Ranch headquarters by assuming its $15 million of debt, including money owed in deferred contracts to players. And he bought 63 percent of the team at a valuation of $60 million.

4. The value of the Cowboys had gone up only $10 million in the five years since Donald Trump was given a chance to buy them for $50 million. Trump passed, and said this to The New York Times in 1984: "I feel sorry for the poor guy who is going to buy the Dallas Cowboys. It's a no-win situation for him, because if he wins, well, so what, they've won through the years. And if he loses, which seems likely because they are having troubles, he'll be known to the world as a loser."

5. The Cowboys were in such trouble financially when Jones came to buy them that the government (FDIC) had already foreclosed on 13 percent of the team, while another 40 percent was set to be foreclosed on. Jones recently told ESPN's Adam Schefter the team was losing $1 million a month.

6. The initial media conference to announce Jones as the new owner started 1 hour, 22 minutes late, after Jones and team president Tex Schramm flew to Austin to fire longtime coach Tom Landry. In Jones' first 75 days as owner, he redefined the definition of "cleaning house." Landry was gone, Schramm resigned, and among those fired were team treasurer Don Wilson, the team's last original scout Gil Brandt, director of photography Bob Friedman and assistant ticket manager Ann Lloyd.

7. Many other lower-level people lost their jobs because Jerry said he could do some of their jobs himself. "Someone's got to turn off the lights in the building at night," Jones said in April 1989. "If I do that, am I taking someone's job or saving money." The next month, Jones told a crowd at the Greater Little Rock Chamber of Commerce that one of the reasons the Cowboys lost the most money in the league was because they had 130 people doing jobs that 30 people were doing with the Cincinnati Bengals.

8. In June 1989, a little more than 100 days after he bought the team, Jones advocated for the Cowboys' cheerleaders to wear spandex and halter tops. Fourteen of the 38 members quit, as did the team's director. "People don't wear their hair the same way in '89 as they did in '69," Jones said at the time. "People don't wear the same boots. People don't have the same feeling about what is appealing or what is exciting to our fans." A Dallas Times Herald poll taken at the time had only 7 percent agreeing with Jones.

9. In August 1989, Jones made it a priority to have beer served in Texas Stadium. Beer was previously reserved only for places classified as a "fine restaurant." It took two years, but Jones eventually won over the local politicians -- the vote was 31-0.

10. In the midst of what became a 1-15 season in 1989, the Cowboys traded Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings. It became the trade that built the Cowboys' dynasty. Dallas landed a total of five players and eight draft picks, including three first-rounders. The Cowboys used the picks they got from the Vikings to draft Emmitt Smith, Darren Woodson and Russell Maryland, among others.

11. Less than four years into Jones' ownership, the Cowboys won Super Bowl XXVII in January 1993, beating the Bills 52-17. A year later, the Cowboys repeated as champs, beating the Bills again in Super Bowl XXVIII.

12. In 1995, Jerry Jones announced team deals with Nike, Pepsi, American Express and AT&T that were worth more than $60 million. The NFL, however, said the deals were ambush marketing because they violated revenue sharing. The league was upset in particular with Pepsi and American Express because it had signed huge deals with competitors Coca-Cola and Visa. After Jones refused to back down, the league sued him. "The success of the league has really been to operate as a partnership," NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said at the time. Jones disagreed and countersued. More than a year later, both sides dropped their claims and Jones was allowed to keep his deals.

13. Amid the chaos, Jones increased his worth as a league power broker, as the Cowboys won Super Bowl XXX in 1996, their third title in four seasons.

14. Despite his great business savvy, Jones of course was not always liked. A November 2000 ESPN.com poll of most disliked owners had Jones at No. 1, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner at No. 2, Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder at No. 3 and Atlanta Braves, Hawks and Thrashers owner Ted Turner at No. 4.

15. In 2001, Jones opened the Cowboys Golf Club, the first and only NFL-themed golf club. The all-inclusive resort facility is located in Grapevine, Texas. That same year, Jones brought the Cowboys to training camp in Oxnard, California, to expand the team's reach. At the time, Jones said that league studies indicated that the Cowboys would win a popularity poll in every area of California except for San Diego and the Bay Area.

16. The Cowboys had been known as "America's Team" since the 1970s, but Jones started putting it on merchandise in 2001. He trademarked it in 2013.

17. In 2002, when the NFL did a new deal with Reebok, Jones opted out, feeling that it wasn't fair that revenues were equally split despite the fact that Cowboys contributed a disproportionate share (it reached its height in 1994 when the Cowboys generated 28 percent of all the teams' licensing royalties). Going out on his own and starting his own distribution system allowed him to better control the Cowboys brand. For the previous five seasons, the Cowboys made up 16 percent of league merchandise. The deal that allowed Jones to go on his own, made him guarantee that 16 percent back to the league and keep anything above it.

18. The bet paid off, as Jones has now been on his own for 15 years. The move was more than a decade in the making. In 1994, Jones told U.S. News & World Report: "My legacy in this league is that I'm going to be the one that unshackles the merchandise sales." No other owner has dared to try it.

19. Jones founded 289c Apparel in 2009 to service the Cowboys business. That company now services the retail operations for USC and the University of Texas.

20. In 2002, the Cowboys expanded their brand within football by launching an Arena League team, the Dallas Desperados. They immediately rose to the top of attendance and merchandise sales.

21. In 2008, Jones, the Yankees and Goldman Sachs created a hospitality company called Legends that services teams, including ticket sales. Earlier this year, a third of the business was sold off that values the business at $700 million, according to a report by Bloomberg.

22. In 2009, the new Cowboys Stadium opened, with a standing-room capacity of 105,000, the largest in the NFL. "Jerry World," as it has been called, also debuted the largest screen in sports, which hovers from 20-yard line to 20-yard line.

23. In the season opener against the New York Giants in 2012, Jones' son-in-law, Shy Anderson, was caught on camera cleaning Jerry's glasses. The team trademarked "Jerry Wipes" and sold a glasses cleaning cloth for $2.99. Proceeds went to the Salvation Army.

24. In 2013, AT&T, which first signed a three-year, $5 million deal with the team in 1996, bought naming rights to the Cowboys Stadium for at least $17 million a year.

25. In 2016, the Cowboys opened the first parts of The Star in Frisco, a 91-acre headquarters that houses a field, a 60,000-square-foot fitness center, a Cowboys-themed sports club and a hotel, among other things.