Print and Go Back BlogsColumns [Print without images]

Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Kin spirits: Jerry Jones, Mike Brown

By Todd Archer

IRVING, Texas -- On the surface, there do not seem to be many similarities between Jerry Jones and Mike Brown.

Jerry Jones
Jerry Jones, whose son Stephen (right) is a Cowboys executive vice president, sought out Cincinnati's Brown family when he purchased the Dallas team.
Jones, the Dallas Cowboys' owner, is flashy. Brown, the Cincinnati Bengals' president, is reserved. Jones can walk into a room and command attention. Brown can slip into a room unnoticed by most. Jones has a private plane ready to take him anywhere. Brown will fly commercially. Jones will rap in a Papa John's commercial. Brown would rather eat at the Steak 'n Shake in downtown Indianapolis in February during the annual NFL scouting combine.

But Jones' Cowboys and Brown's Bengals are both family-run shops. They are the only two owners in the NFL who call the everyday football shots for their organizations.

"I have a high regard for Jerry," Brown said. "He's one of a kind. A super salesman. That part of it is far beyond anything I've ever been up to. What we both have in common is that we both run our football teams as a family business.

"The Cowboys are grander in many ways, but when you come down to the essentials, we do a lot of the same thing for our football teams."

Their teams meet Sunday in Cincinnati as both try to remain in playoff contention in their respective conferences.

When Jones purchased the Cowboys in 1989, he talked extensively with Paul Brown, the Hall of Fame coach and founder of the Bengals, and his son Mike because he wanted to run the Cowboys as a family business.

Mike Brown
Like Jerry Jones, Bengals owner Mike Brown has children who help run his NFL team.
Stephen Jones, Charlotte Anderson and Jerry Jones Jr. have executive vice president titles for the Cowboys. Pete Brown, Mike's brother, is a senior vice president. Mike's children, Katie Blackburn and Paul Brown, carry vice president titles for the Bengals.

How Jerry Jones and Mike Brown operate their businesses could not be more different, mostly because of the market sizes, but it does not affect their kinship. However, it is interesting to note that the only team Jones has not made a trade with is Cincinnati.

"We talk on occasion but we don't burn up the phone talking to each other," Brown said. "I always listen when Jerry has something to say. It's interesting to me how he sees the NFL. He'll say his piece and I'll say mine and we leave it at that."

Both played college football. Jones was a guard on Arkansas' 1964 national champion team. Brown was a quarterback at Dartmouth, leading the team in touchdowns in 1956.

Cowboys tight ends coach John Garrett has an interesting perspective on both owners. He played a year for the Bengals, and spent seven years in the organization as an assistant coach and scout. He has been with the Cowboys since 2007.

"On the outside, yeah, they are different," Garrett said. "A large-market team here and a smaller-market team in Cincinnati, so obviously they have to conduct their business a little bit differently. But at the end of the day, they both are doing what? Trying to acquire the best people, players and coaches to make their team win and be successful with the ultimate goal of winning the Super Bowl."

Jones has three Super Bowl wins from the 1990s. Brown was an assistant general manager when the Bengals lost Super Bowls XVI and XXIII to San Francisco.

Criticism of their work has never been hard to find since neither team has had playoff success since their Super Bowl appearances. The Cowboys have one playoff win in 16 seasons. The Bengals have not won a playoff game since 1990 and have been to the postseason just three times since (all in the past seven years).

The calls for Jones to hire a "football guy" are similar to what Brown hears in Cincinnati, but both continue on, perhaps out of stubbornness of wanting to win and win their way.

"When our teams win, there is a silence," Brown said. "On the other hand, when it loses, the letters come rolling in, then it moves to talk radio and on to some other things. We have blogs that seem to thrive on just how stupid we are or I am. I suspect he runs into similar things.

"It's part of it. You don't like it, but that is a burden you carry because you like what you do. It's what makes me tick. It's what makes him tick."