The Walter Camp Distinguished American
The Walter Camp “Distinguished American” award is presented each year to an individual who has utilized his or her talents to attain great success in business, private life or public service and who may have accomplished that which no other has done. He or she may have a record of dedication to mankind that should not pass unrecognized and a life that has been dedicated to the preservation of the American ideal. The recipient need not have participated in football but must be one who understands its lesson of self-denial, cooperation and teamwork, and one who is a person of honesty, integrity and dedication. He or she must be a leader, an innovator, even a pioneer, who has reached a degree of excellence that distinguishes him or her from contemporaries, as well as someone who lives within the principles of Walter Camp.
Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys Owner) is the 2021 recipient of Walter Camp Football Foundation’s Distinguished American award.
In one of the most dramatic eras of ownership in professional sports, Jerry Jones’ stewardship of the Dallas Cowboys has brought unprecedented results and success to one of the world’s most popular sports entities. His three-decade long journey reached a rare pinnacle with his selection for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the 2017 class of enshrinees. Jones became the 15th owner in history to earn a bust in Canton.
Aside from being one of just three current owners to guide their franchises to at least three Super Bowl titles, Jones’ efforts in the areas of sports marketing, promotion and the development of AT&T Stadium have created a vivid imprint on the landscape of the NFL and the American sports culture.
On the heels of his recent Hall of Fame selection, Jones was selected as one of the 100 Greatest Living Business Minds in commemoration of Forbes magazine’s 100th year anniversary in 2017. In that same year, he was also recognized for his career contributions to sports in America by being named the 2017 recipient of the Sports Business Journal’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Prior to his enshrinement in Canton, USA Today designated Jones as No. 1 on its list of the 100 Most Important People in the NFL in July of 2016.
Highlighted by Super Bowl victories following the 1992, 1993 and 1995 seasons, Jones became the first owner in NFL history to lead his team to three league championships in his first seven years of ownership. In 1995 Dallas also became the first team in NFL history to win three Super Bowls in four seasons while tying the then NFL record for most Super Bowl victories by an organization with five.
The first decade of Jones’ ownership closed with eight playoff appearances, six division titles, four conference championship game appearances and three world crowns as the Cowboys were named the NFL’s Team of the 1990s. More recently, the Cowboys have won NFC East Division titles in 2007, 2009, 2014 and 2016, while the ’16 club secured the 14th playoff appearance in Jones’ 29 years of leadership.
Following the 2014 season, a year when the Cowboys posted a 12-4 record and then won a home playoff game, Jones was named the NFL Executive of the Year by the Pro Football Writers Association of America.
Along with the success of the Dallas Cowboys on the field, Jones’ vision and leadership provided the driving influence behind the concept, design and construction of AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas – a venue that is recognized internationally as perhaps the most spectacular and state-of-the-art sports stadium in the world.
Opened to the public in May 2009, the 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 2010. Along with that achievement for the team’s new home, Jones was also named the 2009 Sports Executive of the Year by the SBJ.
The 100,000-plus seat 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 nine years of operation, more than 11 million fans have attended events that included high school and collegiate football, major college basketball, international soccer, professional bull riding, Supercross, world championship boxing and concerts that featured world-renowned recording artists. More than three million other visitors have passed through the 12-story high doors of the stadium for daily public tours of the venue.
With its architectural versatility and cutting edge media capabilities, AT&T 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 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 stadium has already played host to Super Bowl XLV (February 2011), the NCAA Final Four in men’s basketball (April 2014) and the inaugural College Football Playoff Championship Game (January 2015). Other top-flight sporting events for the future include the annual Goodyear Cotton Bowl, the Texas A&M-Arkansas football Southwest Classic and the annual AdvoCare Classic collegiate football series.
Jones recently turned his football development and marketing expertise to the new World Headquarters of the Dallas Cowboys as The Star in Frisco, Texas, opened its doors for operation in the summer of 2016. Located in a rapidly growing community of more than 150,000 residents, The Star is a partnership with the City of Frisco and The Frisco Independent School District that places a strong focus on inspiring a solid future for high school football, youth sports and the next generation of players and fans by uniquely engaging them at the place where the Cowboys live, work and practice.
The Star is the only NFL training facility in the U.S. that is shared with a public high school athletic program. All 10 Frisco ISD high schools play home games in Ford Center at The Star, a state-of-the-art, 510,000-square-foot indoor athletic facility. With a capacity of 12,000 seats, Ford Center hosts a variety of events in addition to football games, such as concerts, collegiate basketball, boxing and professional lacrosse, to name a few.
The Star includes a 91-acre mixed-use development located on the Dallas Tollway. In addition to the team’s headquarters, the project is a vibrant destination that features shopping, dining, nightlife, athletics, fitness, event and hotel options.
Since he took over as general manager in 1989, Dallas has drafted 33 different players who have gone on to appear in a combined total of 118 Pro Bowls. Dallas has also signed 13 free agent players who have made 31 Pro Bowl appearances while representing the Cowboys. Additionally, Dallas traded for two different players who made three Pro Bowls. Since 1989 the Cowboys have made 150 trades, the most celebrated of which was the 1989 deal that sent Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings and provided the personnel foundation for three league titles.
His recent efforts to retool the Dallas roster have resulted in some of the NFL’s most productive drafts over the past eight years. Between 2010 and 2017, Dallas has selected 19 players who have become starters, with seven of those becoming All-Rookie Team selections.
Those same seven players have become Pro Bowlers who have already made a collective total of 20 trips to the annual all-star game: Dez Bryant (selected in 2010), Tyron Smith (2011), DeMarco Murray (2011), Travis Frederick (2013), Zack Martin (2014), Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott (both 2016). The foundation for the future success of the team has been put in place on the offensive line where, following the 2017 season, Smith, Frederick and Martin were all Pro Bowlers for the fourth straight year. Elliott and Prescott – Dallas’ duo of young offensive backfield weapons – became the first pair of Cowboys rookies to ever be selected to the Pro Bowl in 2016. Elliott led the NFL in rushing and took home FedEx Ground Player of the Year honors while Prescott became the first rookie quarterback in team history to be named to the Pro Bowl and the first to win AP Offensive Rookie of the Year.
In selecting the on-the-field leadership for the Cowboys, Jones hired a pair of coaches who won three Super Bowls in Dallas: Jimmy Johnson (1992-1993) and Barry Switzer (1995). Chan Gailey followed with a division title and playoff appearances in 1998 and 1999. In 2003 Jones successfully recruited two-time Super Bowl winner Bill Parcells to Dallas, and Parcells directed the team to three winning seasons and two playoff trips in four years. In February 2007, Jones added another successful NFL head coach in Wade Phillips, who guided the club to a pair of division titles in his first three years (2007 and 2009) and a playoff victory in 2009. In 2011 Jones named Jason Garrett as the team’s eighth head coach after the former Cowboys quarterback guided the club to a 5-3 record as the interim coach in the second half of the 2010 season. Garrett has since added a pair of division titles in 2014 and 2016, and his overall record of 68-55 represents the second-most victories by a head coach in club history.
In the last 40 years, 38 different owners have entered the NFL. Of that group, only Jerry Jones, Pat Bowlen of Denver and Robert Kraft of New England have guided their franchises to more than two Super Bowl championships. Moreover, Jones joins Art Rooney, Jack Kent Cooke, Al Davis, Eddie DeBartolo, Kraft and Bowlen as the only men to have won at least three Super Bowls as NFL owners.
On the league front, Jones actively contributes his vision and enthusiasm to enhancing the NFL’s status as the world’s premier professional sports league by serving on a wide range of league committees. As a member of the Management Council Executive Committee, he was very involved in the 2011 labor negotiations that resulted in the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL and its players. In addition to the CEC, Jones is currently the Chairman of the NFL Network Committee, Chairman of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Committee, and he is a member of the NFL Broadcasting Committee, and the Health and Safety Advisory Committee. Jones also served on the committee that was charged with overseeing the search for a successor to retired NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, a process that successfully landed current NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in September 2006. In addition, Jones has served two prior terms as a member of the NFL’s Competition Committee as well as a stint on the Business Ventures Committee.
His contributions and innovations in the areas of marketing, corporate sponsorships, television, stadium management, stadium development, labor negotiations and community service have made a visible imprint on the ever evolving face of professional sports in America. Since becoming involved with the Cowboys, Jones’ accomplishments have been recognized through his induction into the Boys & Girls Clubs of America Hall of Fame, the Texas Sports Hall of Fame (2007), the Texas Business Hall of Fame (2005), the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame (1999) and the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame (1998). In July 2012, Jones was recognized as the Lifetime Achievement Award recipient by the Arkansas Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame. In August 2007, he served as the presenter for Michael Irvin’s induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, a recognition he was also named for by Emmitt Smith in Canton in August 2010 and 2013 enshrinee Larry Allen.
In April 2014 Jones received the prestigious Horatio Alger Award in Washington, D.C. and was inducted as a lifetime member into the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans. In May 2014, Jones was also recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award presented by Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc. On October 3, 2013, Jones was inducted into the National Football Foundation’s Leadership Hall of Fame, an award which celebrates leadership of a lifetime of success on the field, in the boardroom and in the community.
As a co-captain of the 1964 National Championship Arkansas Razorbacks, Jones is one of a small number of NFL owners who actually earned a significant level of success as a football player. He is the only man in the history of the National Football League to play for a collegiate national championship football team and own a Super Bowl winner. In addition, Jones and the legendary George Halas are the only two men to become NFL owners after playing in a major college football bowl game. His current ties to the college game include membership on the Board of Directors for the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame.
A man of varied interests who will not rest on yesterday’s achievements, he is a dedicated businessman and family man, sharing a vivid enthusiasm for both. Although Jones and his family are very involved in numerous civic and charitable causes, the Joneses have left an indelible local and national impression on the philanthropic landscape with their love and dedication to The Salvation Army.
For the past 21 seasons, the Jones family has dedicated the Cowboys Thanksgiving Day halftime show as a national showcase to kick off The Salvation Army’s annual Red Kettle Campaign. Through the donation of national television airtime, the event has created a holiday tradition while helping to increase donations to The Salvation Army’s annual fundraising efforts by more than two billion dollars. Reba McEntire, Destiny’s Child, Sheryl Crow, Carrie Underwood and Kenny Chesney are just a few of the distinguished artists who have provided entertainment for the holiday extravaganza.
The Salvation Army points to the annual Cowboys kickoff event as one of the most effective, creative and important innovations that has been developed in the long and storied history of the organization.
The Joneses received the Evangeline Booth Award in 1999, one of The Army’s highest national community service awards, and have been selected for membership into the prestigious Salvation Army William Booth Society. Jerry and his wife Gene were also named to The Army’s National Advisory Board in April 1998 shortly after being named the organization’s Partners of the Year in 1997. In April 2007, the Joneses served as the honorary chairpersons for The Salvation Army’s National Advisory Organizations Conference (NAOC) that was held in Dallas.
For 10 years, Gene and Jerry Jones served as hosts and underwrote the costs for the Super Lunch, a fundraising event for The Salvation Army Irving Corps Community Center. In 1998 the Gene and Jerry Jones Family Center for Children opened in conjunction with The Army.
As part of the Jones Family and the Dallas Cowboys commitment to Arlington, Texas, the home of the club’s stadium, Gene and Jerry Jones Family Charities will donate a total of $16.5 million to non-profit organizations serving youth in Arlington from 2009-2041.
In 2001 the Joneses were awarded the Chairman’s Award by The Boys & Girls Clubs of America. In June 2002, Gene and Jerry Jones were recognized as the recipients of the Children’s Champion Award for Philanthropy that was presented by the Dallas for Children organization. In 2003 the Family Gateway organization of Dallas presented Gene and Jerry with the Annette G. Strauss Humanitarian Award. In April 2005, Gene and Jerry were recipients of the Hope Award, the highest community service recognition awarded by the Lone Star Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. In 2010 the Jones Family and the Cowboys were selected by The Boys & Girls Clubs of America to receive the prestigious Chairman’s Award that recognized the Cowboys long and dedicated history of supporting that organization.
The Jones family is very involved with several other community-related organizations, including Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, Happy Hill Farm Academy/Home, the National Board for The Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the Kent Waldrep Paralysis Foundation, The Rise School of Dallas, The Family Place and The Family Gateway. In 2010 the Jones family endowed the North Texas Youth Education Town with a $1 million grant. Created as a lasting legacy of Super Bowl XLV, the North Texas YET is administered by The Salvation Army and provides North Texas youth with education, mentoring, fitness and character enrichment programs.
Jerry (10/13/42) and Gene live in Dallas. They have three children, Stephen, Charlotte and Jerry Jr., and nine grandchildren.
Stephen is a graduate of the University of Arkansas and serves as the Cowboys Chief Operating Officer/Executive Vice President/Player Personnel. Charlotte is a Stanford graduate and serves as the Cowboys Executive Vice President/Chief Brand Officer/President of Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Jerry Jr., a graduate of Georgetown University, who earned his law degree from Southern Methodist University, is the Cowboys Executive Vice President/Chief Sales and Marketing Officer.
Jerry Jones graduated from Arkansas in 1965 with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration, and earned a Master of Arts degree from the university that same year.
Biography sourced from www.dallascowboys.com
Previous winners of the Walter Camp Distinguished American Award
Chris Berman – Brown University (2019)
Archie Manning – Ole Miss (2018)
Lee Corso – Florida State University (2017)
Mike Ditka – University of Pittsburgh (2016)
Tim Shriver – Yale University (2015)
Verne Lundquist – Texas Lutheran (2014)
Joe Theismann – University of Notre Dame (2013)
Tom Osborne – Hastings College (2012)
Floyd Little – Syracuse University (2011)
Chuck Bednarik – University of Pennsylvania (2010)
Robin Roberts – Southeastern Louisiana University (2009)
Len Dawson – Purdue University (2008)
Frank Broyles – Georgia Institute of Technology (2007)
Dick Vermeil – San Jose State University (2006)
Arthur Blank – Babson College (2005)
Pat Summerall – University of Arkansas (2004)
Bill Walsh – San Jose State University (2003)
Regis Philbin – University of Notre Dame (2002)
New York City Police, Fire and Emergency Medical Service Personnel and Port Authority Policy (2001)
Gene Upshaw, Texas A&I University (2000)
Glenn “Bo” Schembechler – Miami (Ohio) University (1999)
Steve Young – Brigham Young University (1998)
Steve Largent – University of Tulsa (1997)
Dick Ebersol – Yale University (1996)
Keith Jackson – Washington State University (1995)
Paul Tagliabue – Georgetown University (1994)
The Reverend Theodore M. Hesburgh – C.S.C (1993)
Carm Cozza – Miami University, Yale University (1992)
Susan Saint James – (1991)
Alexander Kroll – Rutgers University (1991)
Texas E. (Tex) Schramm – University of Texas (1990)
Richard W. Kazmaier – Princeton University (1989)
Burt Reynolds – Florida State University (1989)
Y.A. Tittle – Louisiana State University (1988)
Sid Luckman – Columbia University (1988)
Weeb Ewbank – Miami University (1987)
Tom Landry – University of Texas (1986)
Bob Hope – (1985)
Major General William “Bill” Carpenter – U.S.M.A. (1984)
Tom Harmon – University of Michigan (1983)
Edward “Eddie” Robinson – Grambling State University (1982)
Harold “Red” Grange – University of Illinois (1981)
Hon. Alexander M. Haig, Jr. – U.S.M.A. (1980)
George S. Halas – University of Illinois (1980)
David A. “Sonny” Werblin – Rutgers University (1979)
James Crowley – University of Notre Dame (1978)