Arlington –Over their last two-plus decades of Dallas Cowboys ownership, the Jones family has proven one thing above all others: If you want an event, a facility or a project done right, first class and maybe even a bit over the top, they are the people to make it happen.
So when the NFL moved its annual player draft to Arlington for their three-day nationally televised event, the very definition of a traveling circus, the Cowboys, Arlington and the Joneses were more than ready.
From the pre-draft dinners at The Star, to the lavish and carefully cleaned Red Carpet ceremony at the entrance to the stadium, to even the draft itself, seen in person by thousands of fans, inside and out, it was a production few will ever forget.
"Man, the draft was nothing like this when I was selected," said Cowboys legendary safety Darren Woodson, a second-round Cowboys pick out of Arizona State in 1992. "This is incredible."
Of course, Woodson made those comments while signing autographs amidst waiters carrying constantly rotated plates of food and drinks to the fans who lined up behind blue Cowboys carpets and draped metal barriers to watch the players, their families and their college coaches stroll the red carpet into the stadium.
"My draft was nothing," added Cowboy Ring of Honor inductee wide receiver Drew Pearson. "I sat at home with a bag of chips, mad that nobody picked me. Some of my teammates were selected and a lot people told me I would be. It didn't happen, so I went to work."
All the players selected this weekend or not selected at all are headed to work, but first was a one-of-a-kind, Texas-sized celebration.
It also gave local football fans a chance to find out the answers to questions they have always wondered. Is the fabled Green Room, where potential draftees wait to hear their names called by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, really green?
In the case of Arlington and AT&T Stadium, the answer was, well, sort of. The turf where the actual room was constructed, the size of several good-sized bedrooms, was indeed green. The temporary walls were blue and the skirting all around was blue as well.
There were spartan tables laid end to end, along with a bank of cold, non-alcoholic drinks and a table of fruit and candy. But as the night dragged on, very few of the players, their families and their coaches felt like eating.
Penn State running back Saquon Barkely was the first to exit the room as the No. 2 pick by the NFL East foe New York Giants. He walked up the flight of steps with the sign pointing to the draft stage.
There he was greeted by a seemingly unending bank of TV lights and cell phone cameras. The commissioner, who entered from the other end of the stage, was greeted by a non-stop wave of boos and carried freshly imprinted NFL Jersey with the player's name and team colors.
Lamar Jackson, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner, was the last to exit late Thursday as the final pick of the first round. He wore a look of genuine relief, like receiving a call from the governor to spare his fate.
Former University of Texas offensive lineman Connor Williams was still left in the sort of green room at the end of the night with his parents, but vowed to return for the weekend to see who would selected him.
But the tension of the pre-draft green room was in stark contrast to the glitz, glamor and hype of the Red Carpet ceremony earlier. The biggest cheers rang out for Cowboys Hall of Fame Legends Michael Irvin, who exchanged high fives with the fans lining the railing, and quarterback Roger Staubach, who thrust his index finger high in the sky to acknowledge the cheers that greeted him on every side.
Alabama coach Nick Sabin did the quickest of non-smiling walks down the carpet. Georgia coach Kirby Smart and UTSA headman Frank Wilson consented to several interviews and greeted their former players.
UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen was the most social, spending nearly 45 minutes talking, smiling, interviewing and signing autographs for anybody who asked.
Even Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch made the walk, mainly unnoticed by Cowboys fans unaware he would be the team's first-round pick just a few hours later.
The Cowboys helicopter made two passes over the thrilling scene while Gene Jones, Charlotte Jones Anderson and more of the Jones family did a red walk tour themselves.
It was Show Biz meets Hollywood meets America's Team. A night those fans and players who were in attendance won't quickly forget.