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1. People in the NFL do not want to be the subjects of an in-depth story.
2. Writing long-form sports journalism is one of the hardest things a reporter can do.
That’s what makes this Jerry Jones piece from ESPN The Magazine so awesome–it’s easily one of the best examples of sportswriting in the last decade. Jones basically writes it himself, with incredible anecdotes about agreeing to buy an NFL team while hungover in Mexico, drinking Johnnie Walker Blue at every event he’s hosted for the last 50 years, being a notorious womanizer, and much more.
It’s too good not to share, so here are some of the highlights. You should read the whole thing when you have time, but it’s pretty long. Read it in class or something.
On being inspired to buy the Cowboys while hungover:
It has become football lore that Jerry Jones was inspired to buy the Cowboys after waking up with a five-alarm hangover during a fishing vacation in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. After downing too many margaritas with his then-23-year-old son, Stephen, the night before, Jones stayed behind at the hotel and, in a day-old newspaper, stumbled upon a brief story: “Bum Bright to Sell the Dallas Cowboys.”
On intimidating a bartender by threatening to buy the bar and have him fired, just so he would serve Jones and his friends drinks after close:
Dale Hansen, the WFAA sportscaster, recalls a famous story: He and Jones were drinking heavily in Austin one night and stumbled into a dance club at 2:30 a.m. when the bartender told them that last call had long passed. “Either you start servin’ drinks,” Jones said, “or I buy the bar and you’re the first son of a bitch I get rid of.” Ten minutes later, Jones tells Hansen, “Go to the bathroom.” Inside, Hansen discovered a bartender sitting behind a hastily assembled but fully stocked bar; Jones, Hansen and another 10 pals enjoyed mixed drinks until 5 a.m. Hansen was shipwrecked with a hangover until late the following afternoon. “Jones was on ‘Good Morning America’ at 7 a.m.,” Hansen says in awe.
On being the biggest tease in Dallas County:
As we tuck into our meals, a stunningly beautiful woman in her 40s stops by our table. “You don’t remember me,” she tells Jones, mentioning a decade-ago meeting, but this doesn’t jog Jones’ memory. A few more hints, still nothing. She stomps off. Jones shrugs and smiles. Then winks at me.
On wanting to draft Johnny Manziel but being convinced not to:
Among the organization’s football minds, only Jerry Jones wanted Manziel. Jones’ son Stephen, the Cowboys’ executive vice president in charge of player personnel, had lobbied hard against choosing Manziel — “I’m still so damn mad at Stephen,” Jerry tells me — but Jones’ younger son, Jerry Jr., told me, “I’m the head of sales and marketing — where do you think I came down?”
“If we had picked Manziel, he’d guarantee our relevance for 10 years,” Jones says…
“When we were on the clock, I said, if we pick the other guy — any other guy — it would be a ticket to parity, more 8-8 seasons,” Jones says. “The only way to break out is to gamble — take a chance with that first pick, if you wanna dramatically improve your team. That’s why I wanted Manziel, but I was the only guy who wanted him. I listened to everybody … and I’m … not … happy …”
Jerry decided in college that he wanted to buy an NFL team. While his friends Barry Switzer and Jimmy Johnson wanted to hang out with sorority girls, he went out and made as much money as he could. He even stalked former NFL owners to get in the game.
It’s a pretty cool story. You can read the whole thing here.