The Dallas Cowboys are one of the most recognizable sports franchises in the world, let alone the NFL, where they are known as "America's Team." With their five Super Bowl victories, numerous all-time great players, and massive stadium, the 'Boys are an iconic figure in the sports landscape.
Since taking over the franchise in 1989, owner and general manager Jerry Jones has established himself as the man in Dallas. His big spending and willingness to make a splash, like trading Herschel Walker for a ton of picks, helped propel the Cowboys into the dynasty they were in the '90s.
While the 2000s haven't brought as much success to the Cowboys in the form of Super Bowl wins, they have stayed very relevant with some competitive seasons, a fancy new stadium, and constant media attention. With the two best rookies in the NFL from last season—Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott—the future is bright for the organization.
However successful the Jerry Jones era has been, it hasn't come without its share of controversies, rumors, and incidents that the esteemed Mr. Jones would rather you didn't remember. From superstars with checkered private lives to shady dealings with NFL officials to some draft picks that were flat-out awful, here are the Top 15 Things Jerry Jones Doesn't Want You To Know About The Dallas Cowboys.
Remember the disaster that was the 2011 NFL offseason? League owners voted to opt out of their collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association, which led to a slew of disputes and a much-publicized lockout that almost spilled into the regular season. What is less well-known, however is the way Jerry Jones and the Cowboys tried to leverage the situation to their advantage.
With the looming labor dispute, 2010 was an "uncapped" year, meaning there was no salary cap in place like there normally is to limit team spending. Jones, a shrewd businessman with very deep pockets, took full advantage of that fact to front-load several contracts and save himself money down the road, including paying receiver Miles Austin a ridiculous $17 million base salary.
The league, however, wasn't impressed, and retaliated by imposing a cap penalty of $10 million on the Cowboys.
14 The Dean Blandino Controversy
Jerry Jones likes to party. So does NFL VP of Officiating Dean Blandino, apparently. Neither is a big deal on its own, but when Blandino was spotted on Jerry Jones's party bus in 2014, it ticked off owners and officials around the league.
Things only got worse for the pair and their—let's say "comfortable"—relationship when later that year the Cowboys, playing the Detroit Lions in a playoff game, benefited from a mysterious no-call on what appeared to be a blatant pass interference by Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens on an important third down situation late in the game. Referee Pete Morelli initially flagged Hitchens for interference, but quickly and mysteriously retracted the call. Rumors swirled again about the potential link between Jones and Blandino, which Blandino vehemently denied.
13 They've Made Some Terrible Draft Choices
With some of their recent selections, including star rookies Ezekiel Elliot and Dak Prescott, the Cowboys hope they give off the impression that they are a consistently savvy team when it comes to draft picks. However, Jerry Jones's involvement--sometimes over-involvement--as GM has led to some dubious picks.
In 1994, the team traded away two picks to their rival 49ers to grab Arizona State DE Shante Carver in the first round. Carver was a colossal bust, barely lasting four seasons in the league amidst a string of injuries and off-field issues.
In 2006, Jones let head coach Bill Parcells waste the team's 18th overall pick on linebacker Bobbie Carpenter, based on Parcells' previous coaching relationship with Carpenter's father. Carpenter proved too slow and soft to have any sort of impact in the league and never nailed down a starting role in his brief career.
12 12. They've Had Their Share Of Recent Drug Problems
Banned substances are a problem in the NFL, with numerous players getting hit with fines and suspensions and rumors of even more rampant abuse going on underneath the surface. The Cowboys recently made some headlines when three of their defensive players, linebacker Rolando McClain and defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory, were suspended for a mix of PED and drug abuses.
To make matters worse, having three players facing discipline for substance abuse in one season meant the Cowboys were also on the hook for a $250,000 fine.
Standout cornerback Orlando Scandrick also missed four games in 2014 due to a failed drug test. The reason for the failed drug test? Not steroids, according to Scandrick. Apparently his girlfriend, reality television star Draya Michele, encouraged him to take molly while on vacation, leading to the failed test.
11 They produced this cringe-worthy "Mannequin Challenge"
Remember the mannequin challenge? The viral internet trend last fall features a group of people, often a sports team, frozen in place while a camera goes around the room and Rae Sremmurd's song "Black Beatles" plays in the background.
As often happens with fun viral trends, corporations eventual noticed and decided it would be cool to put their own spin on it. And, as often happens, they failed miserably, as you can see here with this awkward offering from the Dallas Cowboys executive team.
What? We can see you moving, Jerry. Who's idea was it to do this on a plane? Why are they feeding each other pizza? Just a terrible idea from start to finish.
10 Jerry Jones Was Named "Least Favorite Sports Personality"
That's right. In an online poll by Sports Illustrated in 2003, the outspoken and controversial Jones came in as the most disliked figure in sports. The honeymoon period was long over and the Cowboy's dominant Super Bowl seasons in the 1990s seemed like a distant memory.
Why exactly is he so disliked? Jones's big personality, loads of cash, and cocky media persona tend to rub everyone else the wrong way when the Cowboys win, and rub Cowboys fans the wrong way when they lose. And they certainly had been losing, in 2003 the Cowboys were coming off three straight 5-11 seasons under coach Dave Campo and things were looking pretty bleak for the once dominant Dallas team.
Speaking of the Cowboys and losing...
9 The Cowboys Really Haven't Been All That Good In The 2000s
A franchise as notable as the Cowboys is usually associated with winning, and the Cowboy's three Superbowl wins in the 90's certainly helped establish that reputation. However, when you dig into the results, they really haven't seen much of any kind of success over the past 20+ years. Since winning the Super Bowl in 1995, the Cowboys have not even appeared in an NFC championship game.
To put this drought in perspective, a baby born after the Cowboy's last championship appearance was legally allowed to go to a bar and watch them lose yet again in this year's divisional round of the playoffs.
Things may be looking up for the Cowboys lately, but with only two playoff wins in the past two decades, it's going to take more than one good season to establish themselves as winners again.
8 Jerry Jones Has Gotten In Trouble With The NFL
In addition to several team fines the Cowboys have been responsible to pay for some shady dealings and player misconduct, Jerry Jones has also been fined multiple times out of his own pocket for some of his public statements.
In 2008 he was fined $25,000 for criticizing referee Ed Hochuli on his radio show after a controversial call in a game between the San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos.
In 2009, in the lead up to the NFL lockout and labor disputes, Jerry Jones was fined six-figures by the league for violating a gag order and making public comments on the ongoing negotiations.
7 Ezekiel Elliott Is Having Trouble Off The Field
On the field, Cowboys rookie sensation Ezekiel Elliott tore up the league in 2016, rushing for 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns, over 300 more yards than the next-best running back. Off the field, however, Elliott can't seem to stay out of trouble.
The NFL is continuing to investigate an alleged domestic violence incident from last summer. Meanwhile, Elliott is making headlines this offseason after forcefully pulling down a woman's shirt and exposing her breast at a St. Patrick's Day event.
There have also been rumors swirling around the organization since last year that Elliott has a destructive pattern of off-field behavior. While he has yet to face any public NFL discipline, these reports are concerning and could continue to be a distraction for the promising young star.
6 Cowboys Fans Petitioned The White House To Have Jerry Jones Removed As Owner
Ever been so frustrated with your favorite sports team you asked the President to do something about it? One disgruntled Cowboys fan has. In 2012, "Steven M." of Fort Benning, Georgia, asked President Obama to step in and help frustrated Cowboys fans out.
The petition requested "The Executive Branch's immediate assistance in removal of owner and GM, Jerry Jones. His incompetence and ego have not only been an extreme disappointment for way too long, but moreover, it has caused extreme mental and emotional duress."
While this could be dismissed as a harmless and isolated prank, the petition actually gained some considerable momentum, with 4,000 responses before being removed from the White House website for violating their Terms of Participation.
5 Jerry Jones Has Had Trouble Getting Along With Coaches
When Jerry Jones purchased the Cowboys in 1989, he immediately put his stamp on the organization by firing legendary coach and fan-favorite Tom Landry and replacing him with his old friend, Jimmy Johnson.
That wasn't enough for Jones, who shortly afterwards fired longtime general manger Tex Schramm, giving himself complete control over both the business side and football side of the franchise. The moves did pay off, with Johnson leading the Cowboy's to two Super Bowl victories.
However, that relationship quickly soured, with Jones replacing Johnson after the 1993 season and publicly stating that any coach could have led the Cowboys to those victories, crediting the roster he put together as the driving force behind their success.
Jones has doubled down on his dislike for Johnson, refusing to add the coach to the Cowboys' Ring of Honor. Johnson's response? Calling Jones a "rich a**hole"
4 The Cowboys Have Treated Stars Poorly
Loyalty is a two-way street, and the Cowboy's recent handling of some of their franchise's all-time greats can't be a promising sign to the team's next generation of franchise players.
First, there was Terrell Owens. The controversial wide receiver was entering the tail end of his career when he signed with the Cowboys in 2006, but he had an incredibly productive run as the Cowboy's top offensive threat, posting three consecutive seasons with 1,000+ yards and 10+ touchdowns. That didn't stop the Cowboys from dumping him after the 2009 season, despite Jerry Jones assuring Owens his job was safe.
Most recently, the Cowboys held quarterback Tony Romo hostage this offseason, refusing to release the quarterback despite clearly having moved on to the promising Dak Prescott. Romo was at the mercy of the Cowboys front office, and that may have cost him a chance to play a few more years in the NFL. Recent reports have him hanging up his cleats to take a job in broadcasting.
3 Jerry Jones Intentionally Stirred Up Quarterback Drama
One of the major stories in the NFL last year was the ongoing QB situation in Dallas. Rookie Dak Prescott performed so well while Tony Romo was out with an injury that the longtime starter never got his job back. The resulting debate over who should start in Dallas was one of the hottest stories of the year last year, with seemingly everyone weighing in.
Quarterback is the most important position on the football field, and ongoing questions about who the starter should be can be a huge distraction for a football team. Jones didn't care, however, and had no problems adding to the drama to increase media exposure.
While most owners and GM's would prefer to let their team operate without too many distractions, Jones embraces-—and fuels—the ongoing media circus in Dallas.
2 Jerry Jones Guaranteed A Super Bowl Victory In 2013
If you're in sports media, it seems an endlessly easy way to get a story is to simply stick a mic in the face of the talkative Cowboys owner and let him take care of the rest. A particularly embarrassing example of this came in 2013 when Jerry Jones guaranteed a Super Bowl victory.
The Cowboys' response to their owner's bold claim? An aggressively mediocre 8-8 season and second place finish in the NFC East. This was their third straight 8-8 season, and one that ended with a particularly painful loss to their hated rivals the Philadelphia to hand them the division and a playoff spot.
Since then, Jerry has stayed away from bold predictions.
1 The 1990s Cowboys Teams Were A Mess Off The Field
On the field, they were a glamorous, breath-taking spectacle. Quarterback Troy Aikman, running back Emmitt Smith, and "The Playmaker" wide receiver Michael Irvin paired with a dominating defense to create the Cowboys dynasty of the early 1990's. Behind the scenes, however, Irvin and the Cowboys were a constant, drug-fueled party.
It all came to a head for Irvin when he was found in his room by police a month after winning the Super Bowl with two strippers, 10.3 grams of cocaine, and assorted sex toys. Irvin was suspended for five games and was received 800 hours of community service in court.
Less well-known than his multiple drug offenses and sexual assault allegations, but perhaps more disturbing was an incident that happened in 1998, a year before Irvin's career was ended by a brutal spinal injury. A dispute over a haircut at a Cowboy's training camp escalated until Irvin grabbed a pair of scissors and slashed teammate Everett McIver in the throat.
Since then, Irvin's problems have lingered, and he is currently under investigation for an alleged sexual assault, a troubling legacy for one of America's Team's biggest stars.