When Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was 15, his hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas was the epicenter of the civil rights movement. Amid efforts to integrate local high schools, protests have erupted. White students attempted to block black students from entering the building.
In a new article about Jones’ potential influence on the NFL’s efforts to improve its admittedly dismal record of hiring minority head coaches, the Washington Post digs up a photo of a 15-year-old Jones. There he is, standing among protesters at North Little Rock High School, blocking the path of six black students.
Sixty-five years later, Jones attributes his presence to a curiosity that defied his football coach’s orders.
Jim Albright, according to Jones, told the team that he “didn’t want to see any of you knotty heads near the front of this school tomorrow.” Jones claims (because, really, what else can he say?) that he was there to watch, not participate.
“I don’t know if I or anyone anticipated or had a background of knowing. . . what was involved,” Jones told the Job. “It was more of a curious thing.”
For one thing, he was 15 at the time. On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine someone who was merely curious having such a prominent place, given that there were surely many others who were there not to watch but to interfere.
The lengthy article delves into Jones’ employment practices with the Cowboys. He never hired a black head coach and he had a limited number of minority coordinators on his payroll. Former Dallas sportscaster Dale Hansen, whose on-air editorials putting down the team are legendary, recounts the Job that Jones could be a force for change among his NFL peers.
Jones doesn’t disagree with Hansen’s central point. Asked by the Job if he has that “singular ability” to effect change, Jones said: “I do. What I’m saying is that I understand that.
The story continues
He also seems to understand the basic truth that the hiring process continues to be driven by connections and familiarity, not raw merit.
“It’s not the Xs and the O’s,” Jones told the Job. “It’s not the Jimmys and Joes. It’s who you know.
It’s also what the owner knows the owner wants to do. In 2003, Jones was determined to hire Bill Parcells. And Jones apparently took the Rooney rule as a tick box, questioning Dennis Green over the phone – and in turn forcing the league to revise the rule to require in-person interviews.
That Jones’ face-to-face interview with the Job persuades anyone that his motives in 1957 were pure, there is no denying that he has significant influence over his other owners. If he were to take a prominent position, others would follow.
That said, he had 33 years to do so. Could this happen in the twilight of his tenure as team owner? It is entirely up to him.
The Washington Post unearths a 1957 photo of Jerry Jones in the crowd blocking black students from entering school, which originally appeared on Pro Football Talk
. washington post digs up a photo jerry jones in crowd preventing black students from entering school