OXNARD, Calif. – Before stepping onto the field to watch Tuesday's training camp practice, Jerry Jones spent 10 minutes describing his emotions after learning he's a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Entering his 28th season as the Cowboys' owner and general manager, Jones is now one step away from enshrinement where 15 other members of the organization previously have been honored:
"Just like nobody goes alone out here on this field," Jones said, "I have been very fortunate to be a part of the NFL in such a visible time, the Cowboys in such a visible time. I'm really the product of a lot of work."
Jones, fellow contributor committee finalist Paul Tagliabue, senior committee finalist Kenny Easley and an undetermined group of 15 finalists will be up for election to the Class of 2017 on Feb. 4, 2017, the day before Super Bowl LI in Houston. An 80-percent vote is required for Jones' election.
His contributions to the Cowboys and the NFL are many.
Since purchasing the Cowboys in 1989, Jones has earned a reputation as one of the NFL's most successful, influential and innovative owners. He oversaw the creation of a dynasty in Dallas that produced three Super Bowls in the 1990s. He helped the league land lucrative television deals. Most recently he was a vocal proponent of bringing NFL football back to L.A. – a vision realized last Saturday in the newly-relocated Rams' preseason opener against the Cowboys at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum.
In July, Forbes magazine placed the Cowboys atop its annual list of most valuable sports franchises at an estimated $4 billion – the first NFL team No. 1 on the list. The Cowboys' $1.2 billion stadium, AT&T Stadium, and its brand-new world headquarters, The Star in Frisco, have both set new standards in sports.
Throughout his nearly 30 years in the league, Jones has looked to break new ground.
"I'm just so appreciative of the chance to do what I've gotten to do in the NFL," he said. "I got to be here at a time where there was change and there could be change and things evolved. That all made a fertile area to come with some thoughts.
"I want to say this: there's not one thing that I could've ever done by myself. When they talk about this being a team game, they are talking about it being a team game at the league level too. They are talking about a team game in every franchise. So there is no going it alone in this thing. You've got to do some convincing and selling.
"I can't tell you how much this was a (Jones) family affair. The recognition, jacket, whatever it is – it's got to fit the family in it because everybody pitched in from that standpoint to make this go."
Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said his father's passion for the NFL and the Cowboys makes this finalist nomination both deserving and rewarding.
"I think this is a wonderful step," Stephen Jones said. "Obviously grateful to the people who saw it the same way in terms of getting him to this point where he has a legitimate shot now to be a Hall of Famer. It's going to be special to me, special to my mother, special to my brother and sister, everybody's been there to be part of this run. We're lucky to have him as our leader and lucky to have him as our leader going forward.
"He loves the game, he loves the league, he loves the Cowboys. I know this is a big, big, big deal to him. He's not going to take it for granted and I think he'll always be a great ambassador, not only for the league but obviously for the Cowboys."