FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — With the Dallas Cowboys set to go to the New England Patriots on Sunday at Gillette Stadium (4:25 p.m. ET, CBS), the storylines are plentiful, beginning proper on the prime.
Cowboys proprietor Jerry Jones and Patriots proprietor Robert Kraft set the tone for his or her respective franchises.
They’ve 9 Tremendous Bowl championships — three for Jones and 6 for Kraft — between them.
Their groups are valued because the richest within the NFL by Forbes — the Cowboys at $6.5 billion, the Patriots at $5 billion.
And they’re powerhouses with regards to the NFL’s enterprise — Jones identified for his improvements in advertising and marketing, company sponsorships and stadium growth; Kraft a serious participant within the league’s large tv offers and serving to finish the 2011 lockout, amongst different issues.
Prematurely of their groups clashing on Sunday, each answered questions from ESPN.com about their reference to one another, their groups and the way they view the NFL.
The requests to talk with Kraft and Jones have been particular to their connection, and never something referring to different league points, equivalent to Jon Gruden’s resignation as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders.
You got here into the league 5 years aside (Jones in 1989, Kraft in 1994). What was the connection like at first?
Jones: “On the Atlanta Tremendous Bowl [XXVIII], I invited him [and] he sat within the field with me at that recreation. I used to be very optimistic. Bob had are available a succession of homeowners that had actually been challenged and I knew that he had actually stepped up. He paid an quantity [$175 million] that exceeded what I had paid [$140 million] for the Cowboys. I used to be very optimistic and optimistic about the way forward for the NFL, and I used to be proud to see him are available and make that form of dedication. I felt like we have been in comparable footwear. I noticed a number of similarities to after I acquired concerned with the Cowboys and so I actually needed him to take pleasure in something I had realized in my first 4, 5 years within the NFL. And he is acquired a terrific character. He is actual straightforward to befriend and discuss to. We each had a typical floor in how we have been motivated and the way we checked out the way forward for the NFL and our franchise. So it was straightforward to have that relationship.”
Kraft: “Jerry was one of many first house owners to welcome me to the NFL. He was gracious sufficient to ask me to sit down with him in his suite on the Tremendous Bowl that 12 months in Atlanta when the Cowboys beat the Buffalo Payments. I used to be overwhelmed by the expertise. I had been a 23-year season-ticket holder of the Patriots, and in that point, the Patriots had solely hosted one playoff recreation, a recreation which we misplaced to the Houston Oilers in 1978. Simply days after shopping for the Patriots, I used to be sitting within the house owners suite on the Tremendous Bowl with Jerry Jones and his visitors. I had stardust in my eyes. It was a outstanding expertise and positively helped determine an organizational objective. Watching the Cowboys win that Tremendous Bowl was an expertise I needed to share with all of New England.
“I used to be inheriting a crew that was just some years faraway from 1-15 and 2-14 seasons. Jerry had the same expertise when he purchased the Cowboys, going 1-15 his first 12 months within the league. But, inside 5 years, the Cowboys received back-to-back Tremendous Bowls. I used to be dealing with the same problem of shopping for a franchise that had traditionally struggled. I needed to show the Patriots franchise round, and spending time with Jerry in my first few weeks as an proprietor on this league gave me motive to be optimistic that it may very well be accomplished, and accomplished rapidly. I’ll at all times be grateful to Jerry for the way in which he handled me after I first got here into the league. It meant quite a bit to me.”
How a lot do you talk about league enterprise?
Kraft: “Once I purchased the Patriots, I paid the very best worth for a sports activities franchise on the time. When Jerry purchased the Cowboys 5 years earlier, he launched a brand new and aggressive solution to market his crew and maximize the income in his market. He shook the norm and altered the way in which NFL house owners do enterprise. The Patriots have been final within the league in income after I purchased the crew. I used to be motivated to alter that. And Jerry was blazing a path for brand new house owners like me to comply with. I’ve at all times loved speaking with Jerry. He’s enthusiastic about his Cowboys and has nice imaginative and prescient for constructing a model. I’ve been on a lot of league committees with him over the past three a long time which have given us every ample alternatives to debate league enterprise and the way forward for the NFL.”
Jones: “We do a number of speaking. We serve on committees collectively and thru that we principally discover ourselves mentally and actively working by way of league points or league alternatives or league challenges. I would add to this that his son, Jon, and [Jones’ son] Stephen are uniquely acquainted and have a novel relationship. Whereas they do not essentially strategy it the identical approach, strategy their contributions and actions with the franchise in the identical approach, they nonetheless take pleasure in the identical — in my thoughts — stature with the crew. That is actual productive and optimistic.”
Do you view one another as allies?
Jones: “We’re allies relative to the expansion and future and challenges the league has. We’re most of the time aligned. You are not aligned on each challenge, however definitely we’re aligned on most points in each visions of the crew being in our households for generations to come back. Now, it isn’t a pure partnership to compete the way in which we compete, and that’s there. And all of the nuances that go together with it — jealousies, competitiveness, all of the issues that you’ve got when it is your crew and your metropolis towards the opposite man’s crew and the opposite man’s metropolis. Now that’s alive and effectively with us. However to his credit score, not mine, he has managed to work by way of the competitiveness and pure at-odds that you’ve got; he is managed to work by way of that and helped me get by way of it.”
Kraft: “The NFL is a humorous enterprise. Off the sphere, I view him as an ally. We’re enterprise companions who compete towards one another in one of the aggressive industries on the planet and we every have passionate fan bases. So, sure, as a enterprise associate, he has been a terrific ally. He is among the best salesmen I’ve ever identified and has accomplished a number of nice issues with the income he has generated and reinvested within the Cowboys amenities and their model. He’s enthusiastic about his crew and that is the form of enterprise associate you need. Somebody who’s invested in making a model during which we are able to all be proud to be related.”
What do you respect essentially the most about one another?
Kraft: “I like Jerry’s ardour for the Cowboys and his total enthusiasm in all the pieces he does. Like I stated earlier than, he’s merely one of many best salespeople God has placed on this planet. There are occasions that I do not even know what he’s saying, but he’s so enthusiastic and speaks with such conviction that you find yourself believing no matter he’s promoting. He generally is a actual charmer and really persuasive in getting what he needs. They’re traits which have labored very effectively for him and for the Cowboys his total profession.”
Jones: “Bob has distinctive communication abilities. Very efficient communication abilities. He is matter-of-fact. I had a man inform me that at Columbia he was voted almost certainly to succeed. He is very proficient in that respect. And he’s a really intense particular person with a fascinating outer floor. That form of mixture could be very efficient.”
What are some similarities in how you use?
Jones: “We love the sport. On the finish of it, we love soccer. And he does, too. I feel that’s the genesis. Secondly, we’re so passionate. We’re very passionate and need to do all the pieces we are able to for the Patriots, the Cowboys or the NFL. We perceive that it is the NFL that makes it attainable for the Cowboys, for the Patriots, to be what they are often. With out the competitors, with out the opposite groups and the viability of the opposite groups, it could not occur. And so he has an impressive really feel for this and makes choices and tries to tell choices accordingly.”
Kraft: “I’m very lucky to have the ability to contain my sons in my household companies, together with the Patriots. I get to see them and spend time with them each day. They usually every have accomplished great work. I do know Jerry feels the identical approach in regards to the alternatives the Cowboys have introduced him to contain Charlotte, Stephen and Jerry Jr. It’s a actual blessing that neither of us take as a right. It is yet another instance of the issues that Jerry and I’ve in widespread. Every of these examples assist strengthen our relationship.”
What are your ideas on NFL enterprise and the place it stands in the present day?
Kraft: “The NFL is as robust because it has ever been and it continues to have a really brilliant future. The current collective bargaining settlement offered us the inspiration during which to barter long-term, record-breaking media agreements with conventional broadcasting rights in addition to streaming alternatives that we all know will develop our audiences, each nationally and internationally. That advantages everybody. Expertise is permitting us to succeed in followers in new and artistic ways in which have been by no means imagined earlier than. It’s an thrilling time to be part of the NFL and to discover the potential development of the league.”
Jones: “Since I have been within the NFL with the place we’re at, you may make a case that we’re in our most interesting hour. And that has to do with how, frankly, now we have dealt with ourselves with COVID, and you can begin proper there because it’s entrance of thoughts. I feel the curiosity in our recreation, it manifests itself in those that watch us on TV and digital and all of the mediums there are on the market in the present day. While you take a look at years previous and take a look at the stadiums now we have, beginning with the latest ones in Los Angeles and Las Vegas; after I take a look at the place we’re with the standard of the athletes, the sport itself; I have never been right here with a greater time than what now we have proper now.”