Sports Outside the Beltway

Stephen Jones, Cowboys Multi-tasker

Todd Archer has an interesting profile of 42-year-old Stephen Jones. While he started with the Cowboys as a 24-year-old with little experience other than having been a star quarterback in high school and a decent linebacker at Arkansas, he has emerged from his father’s shadow and earned the respect of his peers across the league.

Stephen Jones’ title is a sign of just how much he does for the team: executive vice president/chief operating officer/director of player personnel/president of Texas Stadium. His day begins at 6 a.m. and ends whenever it ends. His cellphone goes off hundreds of times a day. E-mails overload his computer. Those face-to-face meetings are now conference calls while he is in Oxnard. “Stephen has the ability to multitask,” said Jerry Jones, his father and owner and general manager of the Cowboys. “It’s one of his biggest skills. He can cover a lot of ground. He was educated as a chemical engineer (Arkansas, Class of 1988), and when I was in college, not only was I never in the chemical engineer building, I’d walk blocks around it to make sure I’d never stumble in it.”

Sure, he got the job because his dad owned the team. But he’s smart, works hard, and has slowly learned the business.

“He’s very calm under pressure, and we were in situations that were tense,” said Dick Cass, president of the Baltimore Ravens and former Jones family attorney. “I think he makes Jerry’s life a lot easier by having someone there with the critical decisions that he can trust, whether you’re talking the signing of Deion Sanders or challenging the NFL’s business practices.” In recent years, he has helped get the Cowboys out of salary-cap trouble left over from the Super Bowl run and put them in a position where they can pay megamillion-dollar bonuses to free agents such as Anthony Henry and Terrell Owens while re-signing Pro Bowlers such as Jason Witten and Roy Williams before they became free agents.

“I hate to say it like this, but I don’t think he takes himself too seriously,” said agent Jimmy Sexton, who represents six Cowboys players and Parcells. “He always says to me, ‘Jimmy, this isn’t too hard. We should be able to figure this out.’ He tries to find solutions to make a deal.”

While he can walk with agents and players and personnel men, Jones also can keep pace with politicians and billionaire owners, something New England Patriots president Jonathan Kraft, one of Stephen’s best friends in the league, said is rare in the NFL. “Stephen is so full of life, so charismatic,” Kraft said. “Clearly, he’s a Jones. People enjoy being around him. He’s not a negative person. He doesn’t speak ill. He’s very smart, and he doesn’t have to let you know he’s very smart. He’s down to earth.”

Considering that he stands to inherit the whole shooting match when his dad steps away, it’s good to know that the team will be in good hands.

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