HOUSTON, Texas – If there was any doubt about Jerry Jones' legacy, it was erased on Saturday night.
On the eve of Super Bowl LI, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced its seven 2017 inductees, including Jones – the Cowboys' legendary owner and general manager since 1989.
Speaking to reporters after the announcement, Jones recounted the jubilation in his Houston hotel room when he heard the famous knock at the door – the arrival of Hall of Fame President David Baker arriving to tell him the good news.
"I was with my family. I have tremendous family involvement in everything that I've done in sport," Jones said. "I've had family around me in my love for football and my love for the people that are in sports."
Moments after being revealed as a Hall of Famer, Jones took to a small stage with his fellow honorees – LaDanian Tomlinson, Jason Taylor, Kurt Warner, Kenny Easley, Terrell Davis and Morten Anderson.
In the months and weeks leading up to the vote, Jones often repeated it was an honor just to be nominated. But with that nomination giving way to a membership in football's most elite club, he wasted no time in expressing his gratitude.
"I have said that it hardly seems fair to get a pat on the back for something that I've loved doing so much – even when it didn't look that much fun," he said. "There's a lot of important things that aren't fun, but it's wonderful."
[embeddedad0]Jones goes to Canton in the NFL's "contributors" category, which feels like a massive understatement. After all, Jones' contributions have reshaped the entire makeup of the current NFL – from the way it approaches television and marketing deals, to the fact that professional football returned to Los Angeles for the first time in decades with plenty of thanks to his influence.
On top of that, his Cowboys teams defined success in the 1990s, winning three championships over a four-year span by capturing victories in Super Bowl XXVII, Super Bowl XXVIII and Super Bowl XXX.
"Every step of the way, with every decision, it has been about honoring and respecting these players and understanding what they've gone through to be there," Jones said.
Many of those championship players have joined the Hall of Fame under Jones' watch, many of whom he enshrined in Canton himself. On Saturday night, many of those faces – Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders, for starters – were on hand to congratulate their employer on the achievement.
Current Cowboys coach and former Cowboys quarterback Jason Garrett offered a unique perspective on the magnitude of the moment.
"I've been really fortunate," Garrett said. "I played for him for eight years, I was an assistant coach for him for four years and I've been the head coach now for six years. I've known him in a lot of different capacities.
"This goes all the way back to the early nineties. The conversation by everybody – coaches, players alike – is that we love working for him, because the pedal is always down. He'll do whatever he believes is necessary to win."
From three Super Bowl championships, to a staggering 13-win campaign in 2016, Jones has seen his share of victories – from past teams and present alike.
That current crop of Dallas Cowboys was on hand to see the honor. Highlighted by longtime Cowboy Jason Witten, a slew of current players – Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and Travis Frederick – turned out to see their boss honored.
"To think what he's done for this league and for all of us as players," Witten said. "You think back to 1989 when he came into this league – who would've thought he'd back this impact and really change the game for all of us. It's well deserved, and I'm excited for him."
Celebrate Owner, President, and General Manager Jerry Jones Pro Football Hall of Fame vote with some of our favorite photos of him through the years.