Jerry Jones in July 2023. Jul 31, 2023; Oxnard, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones during training camp at the Marriott Residence Inn-River Ridge playing fields. Mandatory Credit: Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, former NFL Network analyst Jim Trotter (now with The Athletic) filed a lawsuit against the league and the network for racial discrimination. In that lawsuit, Trotter made a number of notable claims, including specific accusations against NFL owners Jerry Jones and Terry Pegula. With Jones, Trotter claimed that the Dallas Cowboys’ owner told him in Aug. 2020 “If Blacks feel some kind of way, they should buy their own team and hire who they want to hire.”

But Jones has pushed back. He quickly called that “not accurate” in a statement. And after the Cowboys’ game Sunday, he claimed “I’m all for it and I do it. I work at it” in reference to minority ownership, and he pushed back on Trotter’s specific claim with “Jim’s a friend and I think a lot of him. I hate that we’ve got some litigation and hopefully we will address all of that, but the overall concern I would say is just not accurate.” And he discussed that more in his weekly interview with Shan and RJ (Shan Shariff and RJ Choppy) on Audacy’s 105.3 The Fan in Dallas Tuesday, starting at 20:43 here:

“The issue was being criticized for in some manner implying that there was something other than the best spirit, the best actions in me for being fair relative to niceness or relative to race, and that was just inaccurate. That allegation is just inaccurate, completely. I have…I’m very active, and I’m very positive about having minority potential ownership in the National Football League. And I’m active in that direction. The main reason I’m qualified to say that to anybody that would fit that bill is because I came from the back of the pack to get to be a part of ownership.”

“I certainly was not listed anywhere in the thousands and thousands and thousands of people on this earth as someone that was financially qualified to own an NFL team and in doing so have influence from the position of ownership. My position is the opposite from what I was, am being critiqued for. It just didn’t happen that way. So it was not accurate. And for those who have read this and think it’s important enough to be talking about, the defense is I understand because I know the times we’re in. But I want to be a good soldier here.”

It’s understandable why Jones is trying to defend himself here, and why he’s limited in what he can say (“I want to be a good soldier here”) because of the litigation. But his “I came from the back of the pack” argument may spawn some more criticism. Yes, Jones’ family wasn’t always wealthy, and he doesn’t come from the level of previous generations’ wealth that some other owners do. But his family was quite successful on their own level: they owned a prominent insurance company (that Jones worked at as an executive vice president shortly after his graduation from the University of Arkansas), and later parlayed that into a successful ranch.

And yes, Jones hit some business struggles himself early on. But he eventually found great success with an oil and gas business. And that gave him the money to buy the Cowboys in 1989 (for $140 million; they’re now estimated to be worth more than $9 billion). Yes, a lot of success with both the oil and the Cowboys is on him. But the family connections helped him get going.

And Jones has not particularly experienced racial discrimination. And he knows firsthand just what that can be. That’s as evidenced by the 2022 stories around the unearthed photo of Jones in a crowd in 1957, with that crowd trying to prevent the desegregation of North Little Rock High School in Arkansas.

Jones told The Washington Post he wasn’t there to stop that school’s integration, saying “I don’t know that I or anybody anticipated or had a background of knowing … what was involved. It was more a curious thing.” But at the very least, he saw the impacts of racial discrimination up close. And that kind of discrimination can mean a little more than the “back of the pack” Jones claims to have come from. That doesn’t mean he isn’t sincere about being “very positive about having minority potential ownership in the National Football League,” but whether he’s “qualified to say that” can be debated, at the least.

[Audacy]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.