When Cowboy owner Jerry Jones was 15 years old, his hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas was the center of the civil rights movement. Amid efforts to integrate local high schools, protests erupted. The white students tried to stop the black students from entering the building.
In a new article regarding Jones’ potential impact on the NFL’s efforts to improve its admittedly dismal record for hiring minority coaches, Washington Post He reveals a photo of Jones at the age of 15. Here he stands among protesters at North Little Rock High School blocking the path of six black students.
Sixty-five years later, Jones attributed his existence to a curiosity that defied his football coach’s orders.
Jim Albright, per Jones, told the team that he “didn’t want any of you to see a knot near the front of that school tomorrow.” Jones claims (because, really, what else can he say?) that he was there to watch, not to participate.
“I don’t know that I or anyone expected or had a background in knowing . . . Jones told The Guardian Mail. “It was more curious.”
On the one hand, he was 15 years old at that time. On the other hand, it is hard to imagine someone who was just curious to get such a prominent spot, since there were certainly plenty of others who were there not to observe but to obstruct.
The lengthy article delves into Jones’ hiring practices with the Cowboys. He had never named a Black head coach, and had a limited number of minority coordinators on the payroll. says Dale Hansen, the former Dallas sportscaster whose on-air op-eds carrying the team to task are the stuff of legend, Mail That Jones could be a force for change among his NFL peers.
Jones does not disagree with Hansen’s main point. Asked Mail Whether he has that “unique ability” to effect change, Jones said, “I do. What I’m saying is, I get it.”
He also seems to understand the basic fact that the hiring process is still driven by relationships and familiarity, not raw merit.
“It’s not the X’s and O’s,” Jones said. Mail. “It’s not Jimmy and Joes. Who do you know.”
It’s also what the landlord knows the landlord wants to do. In 2003 Jones was determined to hire Bill Parcells. Apparently seeing the Rooney rule as a box to check, Jones interviewed Dennis Green on the phone — which in turn forced the league to revise the rule to request in-person interviews.
Whether Jones’ personal interview with Mail It would convince anyone that its motives in 1957 were pure, and there is no denying that it had a huge impact on its other owners. If he takes a prominent position, others will follow.
However, he had 33 years to do so. Could it happen in the twilight of his tenure as team owner? It’s entirely up to him.