Chief Operating Officer, Executive Vice President and Director of Player Personnel – Dallas Cowboys
With 21 years of NFL experience, Stephen Jones has established himself as one of the brightest and most versatile executives in professional sports. Recognized as Owner Jerry Jones’ right-hand man, Jones is the Cowboys Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President, as well as President of Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
He oversees all elements of the scouting and player personnel departments for the Cowboys as well as all aspects of the stadium management operation. His work involves managing the organization’s 400-plus employees, while also overseeing the club’s salary cap and all major player contract concerns. He is also active in the recruitment – and management – of all major events that come to Cowboys Stadium. Jones’ experience as a major college football player and his years as one of the NFL’s top executives were instrumental in his recent appointment to the League’s prestigious Competition Committee.
Jones spearheaded the club’s new stadium efforts, overseeing every element of the development and construction of the venue while also working closely with local government, community and business leaders. He was directly responsible for the club’s successful referendum campaign in the fall of 2004 that saw the City of Arlington agree to join forces with the Cowboys in building a new state-of-the-art stadium.
Opened to the public in May of 2009, Cowboys Stadium’s dramatic first season of operation resulted in the venue being named the Sports Facility of the Year by the Sports Business Journal in May of 2010.
The 100,000-plus seat Cowboys Stadium established the attendance record for an NFL regular season game as 105,121 witnessed the September 20, 2009 home opener, while the 108,713 who attended the NBA All-Star Game on February 14, 2010 became the largest crowd to witness a basketball game in the history of the sport.
In just over a year of operation, more than two million fans attended events that included high school and collegiate football, major college basketball, professional bull riding, Motocross, world championship boxing and a handful of concerts that featured world renowned recording artists. Another half million visitors passed through the twelve-story-high doors of the stadium for daily public tours of the venue.
With its architectural versatility and cutting edge media capabilities, Cowboys Stadium has become a visible beacon that has established North Texas as a major focal point on the sports and entertainment canvas of North America.
The brilliant new home of the Cowboys has become a powerful catalyst in attracting a wide range of national and international events that will define the future of the region for generations to come. The Cowboys and North Texas will play host to Super Bowl XLV in Arlington following the 2010 NFL season. Other top flight events that will come to Arlington include the annual AT&T Cotton Bowl, the 2014 NCAA Final Four in men’s basketball, The Big XII Conference Football Championship and the annual Texas A&M-Arkansas football series just to name a few.
Prior to focusing much of his energy on the new venue in Arlington, Jones’ stewardship of historic Texas Stadium left behind a legacy of facility management that maximized the use and visibility of the facility into a year-round destination for sporting, entertainment, community and corporate events on an unprecedented level. His vast experience in stadium management, design and development has landed him a standing appointment on the NFL’s New Stadium Committee.
Jones played an integral role in the team’s rise from a 1-15 record in 1989 to being the NFL’s “Team of the Decade” with three Super Bowl titles in the 1990s. As he enters his 22nd NFL season, Jones is a driving force behind the Cowboys push to return to the NFL’s elite level of teams. His recent work has seen the club restock its roster with some of the game’s top young talent and the recent results have produced winning records in six of the last seven seasons – and division titles in two of the last three years (2007 and 2009).
Most recently he has negotiated contract agreements with a core group of veteran players with Pro Bowl experience. That group includes, Jason Witten, Tony Romo, DeMarcus Ware, Leonard Davis, Andre Gurode, Marion Barber, Jay Ratliff and Mat McBriar.
The last eight draft classes (2002-2009) are proving to be the foundation for the future of the Cowboys with 11 current starters and nine All-Rookie Team members coming out of those selections. Those same drafts also produced nine Pro Bowl players who have collectively combined for 26 all-star game appearances in Roy Williams (2002 draft), Andre Gurode (2002), Terence Newman (2003), Jason Witten (2003), DeMarcus Ware (2005), Marion Barber (2005), Jay Ratliff, Nick Folk (2007) and Mike Jenkins (2008).
In the ever-evolving strategy that dictates a team’s competitiveness in the current collective bargaining agreement, Jones’ performance in managing the Cowboys salary cap, and the club’s activity in free agency, has played a prominent role in the team’s ability to compete at the NFL’s highest level. Most recently he has overseen the acquisition of veteran free agents such as Leonard Davis, Kyle Kosier, Keith Brooking, Igor Olshansky and Gerald Sensabaugh.
Jones’ involvement in shaping the Dallas roster under the salary cap was critical in allowing the Cowboys to maintain one of the NFL’s most talented core group of players throughout the decade of the 1990s. His creativity and care taking of the Cowboys cap played a key role in the team’s six division titles and four conference championship game appearances.
During a historic two-year period of time, Jones was involved in signing five Cowboys stars who were considered the best players in the game at their respective positions. Between September of 1993 and September of 1995, Jones helped orchestrate contract agreements with running back Emmitt Smith, quarterback Troy Aikman, fullback Daryl Johnston, wide receiver Michael Irvin and cornerback Deion Sanders.
Jones has enjoyed a life-long association with the game of football. A four-year letterman as a linebacker and special teams standout at the University of Arkansas, Jones was a starter for the Razorbacks in the Orange Bowl Classic Game that followed the 1986 season. Prior to attending the University of Arkansas, Jones was an all-state quarterback and a three-year starter at Catholic High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.
He graduated from Arkansas in 1988 with a degree in chemical engineering, and immediately went to work in the oil and gas business for JMC Exploration as an engineer.
On Feb. 25, 1989, Jerry Jones purchased the Dallas Cowboys and installed Stephen into a key front office position as one-of-three vice presidents with the club.
Jones is a member and past president of the Dallas Chapter of the Young Presidents’ Organization. He serves on the board of directors for the SMU Athletic Forum, Cotton Bowl Athletic Association, Episcopal School of Dallas and the National Sports Marketing Network. He also serves on the board for the Dallas Citizens Council and the Baylor Health Care System Foundation. He is a former member of the NFL’s Business Ventures Committee, and he is also a member of the board of directors for Legends Hospitality – the joint stadium catering venture involving the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Yankees organizations that Jones was instrumental in creating.
Jones (6/21/64) was born and reared in Little Rock. He is married to the former Karen Hickman of El Dorado, Arkansas, and the couple has three daughters and a son: Jessica, Jordan, Caroline and John Stephen.