FOXBORO, MA – With the Dallas Cowboys preparing to visit the New England Patriots on Sunday at Gillette Stadium (4:25 p.m. ET, CBS), story action is plentiful, starting right at the top.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Patriots owner Robert Kraft set the tone for their respective franchises.
They have nine Super Bowls – three for Jones and six for Kraft – between them.
Their teams were evaluated as the richest in the NFL by Forbes – Cowboys with $6.5 billion, Patriots with $5 billion.
And they’re powerhouses when it comes to the NFL’s business – Jones is best known for his innovations in marketing, corporate sponsorship, and stadium development; Kraft is a major player in the league’s massive television deals and is helping end the 2011 shutdown, among other things.
Before facing their teams on Sunday, both answered questions from ESPN.com about their relationship to each other, their teams, and how they see the NFL.
The requests to speak with Kraft and Jones were specific to their relationship, not anything to do with other league issues, such as Jon Gruden’s resignation as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders.
I came into the league by five years (Jones in 1989, Kraft in 1994). How was the relationship in the beginning?
Jones: In the Atlanta Super Bowl [XXVIII]invite him [and] He sat with me in the box for that match. I was very optimistic. Bob came in a succession of owners who were really challenged and I knew he had really moved on. Payed sum of money [$175 million] That exceeded what I paid [$140 million] for cowboys. I was very optimistic and positive about the future of the NFL, and I was proud to see him come and make that kind of commitment. Felt like we were in similar shoes. I saw a lot of similarities when I got involved with the Cowboys and so I really wanted him to take advantage of whatever I learned in my first four or five years in the NFL. And he has a great personality. It is very easy to make friends and talk to him. We both had common ground on how we were motivated and how we viewed the future of the NFL and our franchise. So it was easy to establish this relationship.”
Kraft: “Jerry was one of the first owners to welcome me into the NFL. He was kind enough to invite me to sit with him in his booth at the Super Bowl that year in Atlanta when the Cowboys beat the Buffalo Bills. Experience. I’ve been a season ticket holder for 23 years. For the Patriots, and in that time, the Patriots only hosted one playoff game, a game we lost to the Houston Oilers in 1978. Just days after buying the Patriots, I was sitting in the owners suite at the Super Bowl with Jerry Jones and his guests. I had star dust in my eyes. It was a great experience and definitely helped set an organizational goal.Watching the Cowboys win the Super Bowl was an experience I wanted to share with all of New England.
“I was inheriting a team that was only removed a few years from a 1-15 season and 2-14. Jerry had a similar experience when he bought the Cowboys, going 1-15 in his first year in the league. However, within five years, the Cowboys had won back-to-back Super Bowls. I was having a similar challenge buying a franchise that historically struggled.I wanted to change the Patriots franchise, and spending time with Jerry in my first few weeks as owner in this league gave me reason to be optimistic I could do it, and get it done quickly. I will always be grateful to Jerry for the way he treated me as I entered League for the first time. It meant a lot to me.”
To what extent do you communicate about the work of the league?
Kraft: “When I bought the Patriots, I paid the highest price for a sports franchise at the time. When Jerry bought the Cowboys five years ago, he introduced a bold new way to market his team and increase revenue in his market. The rule changed the way NFL owners operated. The Patriots were last in the league when I bought the team I was excited to change that Jerry has been carving a path for new owners like me I enjoyed talking to Jerry He is passionate about his cowboys and has a great vision for building a brand I have been on a number of league committees with him over the past three decades which have given us opportunities Great for discussing the league’s business and the future of the NFL.”
Jones: “We do a lot of connections. We work on committees together and through that we find ourselves basically mentally and energetic working through league issues or league opportunities or league challenges. I might add to this that his son, John, and [Jones’ son] Stephen knows him uniquely and has a unique relationship. While they don’t necessarily approach it the same way, they treat their contributions and activities to the franchise in the same way, they still have the same status – in my opinion – with the team. This is really productive and positive.”
Do you see each other as allies?
Jones: “We are allies in terms of the growth and the future and the challenges that the league faces. We are often incompatible. You are incompatible on every issue, but we certainly agree on most issues in both our visions of the team being in our families for generations to come. Now, it’s not a natural partnership to compete the way we compete. Its, that’s there. And all the nuances that go with it – jealousy, competitiveness and all the things you have when you’re your team and your city against the other person’s team and the other person’s city. Now that’s still alive and well. But for him, not mine, he’s made it work. With your natural competitiveness and contradictions; you were able to work through that and helped me get through it.”
Kraft: “The NFL is funny business. Off the field, I see it as an ally. We are business partners that compete against each other in one of the most competitive industries in the world and we each have passionate fan bases. So yeah, as a business partner, he’s been a great ally. He’s one of the greatest salespeople I’ve ever known and he’s done a lot of great things with his revenue and reinvested in Cowboys facilities and their brand.He is passionate about his team and that’s the kind of business partner you want.Someone who has invested in creating a brand we can all be proud of. to be related to it.”
What do you value most in each other?
Kraft: “I love Jerry’s passion for the cowboy and his general enthusiasm in everything he does. Like I said before, he’s simply one of the greatest salespeople God has put on the planet. There are times when I don’t even know what he’s saying, yet he’s so passionate and speaks such Conviction so that you end up believing everything he sells. He can be a true magician and very convincing in getting what he wants. They are characteristics that have worked very well for him and for the Cowboys throughout his career.”
Jones: “Bob has unique communication skills. Very effective communication skills. It’s a reality. One guy told me he was voted most likely in Colombia for success. He’s very talented in that regard. He’s a very strong person with an attractive exterior. That kind of combination Very effective.”
What are some of the similarities in the way you work?
Jones: “We love the game. At the end of it, we love football. And it is too. I think that is the formation. Second, we are very passionate. We are very passionate and want to do everything we can for the Patriots or the Cowboys or the NFL. We We understand that it’s the NFL that makes it possible for the Cowboys, and the Patriots, to be what they can be. Without competition, without other teams and the sustainability of other teams, it just can’t happen. And so he has a great sense of that and makes decisions and tries to communicate decisions accordingly.” “
Kraft: “I am very fortunate to be able to get my sons involved in the family business, including the Patriots. I can see them and spend time with them every day. And they have each done a tremendous job. I know Jerry feels the same about the opportunities the Cowboys have given him to involve Charlotte, Stephen and Jerry Junior. It’s a real blessing that neither of us take for granted. It’s yet another example of what Jerry and us have in common. Each of these examples helps strengthen our relationship.”
What are your thoughts on the work of the NFL and where do you stand today?
Kraft: “The NFL is as strong as ever and continues to have a very bright future. The recent collective bargaining agreement has provided us with the foundation on which we can negotiate long-term, record-breaking media agreements with traditional broadcasting rights as well as broadcasting opportunities that we know It will grow our audience, both nationally and internationally. This benefits everyone. Technology allows us to reach fans in new and innovative ways we never imagined before. It is an exciting time to be part of the NFL and to explore the potential growth of the league.”
Jones: “Since I’ve been in the NFL with what we’re up to, you can prove we’re at our best. It’s about how we deal with COVID honestly, and you can start from there because it’s right in front of our minds. I think the interest in our game, that’s manifested in the people who watch us on TV. And digital and all the media out there today When you look back at years past and you look at our stadiums, starting with the most recent games in Los Angeles and Las Vegas When I look at what we’ve come up with through the quality of athletes, the game itself I’ve never been here at a better time than we have now. .”
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