Can somebody be both the best in the business and worst in the business at the exact same job?
Yes. Just look at Jerry Jones.
The Dallas Cowboys owner is, by some criteria, the most successful owner in the NFL. Then again, using another set of criteria, he is also arguably the worst owner in the NFL.
Strangest part of it all? The reason he could been seen as both the best owner in the NFL and the worst owner in the NFL is for the same reason: the way he hires.
Why Jones Is The Worst Owner In The NFL
On the field, at least since 1996, the Dallas Cowboys have been a disappointment, to put it mildly. Since then, they’ve won one playoff game, which puts them amongst the least successful franchises in football.
It isn’t just the lack of the success, but the way in which the Cowboys have lost, as they have blown it at the end of the season time and time again. The last three years in a row, for example, the Cowboys played a game at the end of their season that if they won, they would have made the playoffs.
And for the last three years in a row, the Cowboys have lost that game.
Most of the blame goes to Jones, who has acted as the general manager of the team during that time, aka the person who decides what players and coaches to hire or fire. His decisions have been a disaster on the field, as he has consistently spent big money on big-name coaches and big-name players who have underperformed.
Why Jones Is The Best Owner In The NFL
That said, there is a strong case to be made that Jones is best owner in the NFL, if looking at him through a different lens.
Football fans are probably laughing at that. But then again, Forbes just listed the most valuable teams in the NFL, and the Dallas Cowboys placed first with a value of $3.2 billion.
Why are the Cowboys so valuable? Sure, Dallas is a big market, but it is smaller than New York, Chicago and Philadelphia, to name a few. And all of those cities’ teams have had more success than the Cowboys have had since 1996.
So why are the Cowboys number one? Jones, and his hiring practices.
The problem with Jones is that he, perhaps subconsciously, doesn’t hire players and coaches from a football perspective. He hires them from a businessman’s perspective. The hires, really, are all about marketing and increasing the value of the Cowboys, instead of actually improving the team.
For example, take Jones’ hiring of Terrell Owens, a very talented wide receiver known as a loudmouth who puts himself in front of the team. Committing a lot of money in a salary cap league to a me-first player like Owens is a questionable on-the-field decision and the Cowboys won a grand total of one playoff game with him.
But, they also were the most talked-about team in football during that time, which undeniably increased the value of the franchise. By having a lightning rod like Owens on the team, the Cowboys were front-page news nearly every day, which ultimately increased the popularity of the team.
A Bigger Takeaway
The fundament problem with Jones is that he isn’t a football person, he’s a businessman. So while he is successful at running the business of the Cowboys, he isn’t very good at actually putting a good team on the field.
What should happen is that Jones should use his football people to make his football decisions. And that’s the bigger takeaway for all businesses: you have to rely on your specialists during hiring.
There’s hiring policies out there like the one at Yahoo where one person has to sign off on every hiring decision. However, to have a truly successful hiring practice, hiring has to be a collaborative effort that utilizes the strengths of the people you already have working at your organization.
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