(Charlotte Jones Anderson photos courtesy of the Dallas Cowboys)
Talk of Fame Network
There are few women in the NFL who have made the impact that Charlotte Jones Anderson has with the Dallas Cowboys.
The team’s executive vice president and chief brand officer, Jones Anderson was the first woman named to chair the Salvation Army’s National Advisory Board and the first to chair the NFL Foundation, which spearheads philanthropic efforts in player care, youth football and medical care. She is also a member of the NFL’s conduct committee.
She is innovative, she is versatile and she is one of the most influential female executives in any professional sport – overseeing the Cowboys’ brand as it applies worldwide, helping in the design and presentation of AT&T Stadium and working on the design of the Cowboys’ new headquarters in Frisco.
She is also the daughter of Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones, and, as she told the Talk of Fame Network on its latest broadcast, it’s not always easy working for your father. Except her father offered an opportunity she could not resist.
“As you can imagine,” said Jones Anderson, who is part of the Talk of Fame Network's salute to women in the NFL, “Jerry casts quite a large shadow. He also cast a huge opportunity for so many of us – but particularly for me. My Dad never saw gender growing up. He always pushed me and believed I could be President of the United States one day if I really wanted to.
“I never dreamed I would be in the family business. Our family business was oil and gas, so that was not exactly my mission coming out of school. Then, all of a sudden, he turns around and buys the Cowboys. Then he asks me while I was in D.C. (she oversaw the office and legislative staff of U.S. Rep. Tommy Robinson) to come down and help him out. And when I got down here the only thing that he said is, ‘I just want to be around people that I can trust … that will lie awake at night trying to figure how to solve the problem, how to help us stop this leaky machine and help turn it around.
“At that time the Cowboys were 3-13 and they were losing $75,000 a day, which is over $1 million a month. It just really wasn’t optimistic around here. With that, it gave me a lot of opportunity to try and to fail and to step back up and to try again.
“When I walked in here my first day I looked at my Dad and said, ‘Where do you want me to start? What do you want me to do?’ And he just looked at me and he said, ‘Find a way to stop losing money and whatever you do don’t tarnish the star.’ And I don’t think I saw him again for a month.”
As we know now, the Cowboys stopped losing and stopped losing money. And the star was not tarnished. It was magnified -- to the point where, according to Forbes magazine, the Cowboys are the second most valuable pro sports franchise in the world today (Real Madrid is first).
But that can have its drawbacks, as Jones Anderson noted. While she is an employee of the club, she also is daughter of an influential owner who is criticized when the Cowboys lose or make risky personnel decisions.
And hearing that criticism isn’t easy.
“I think that’s probably been the hardest part of my job,” she said. “It has certainly been the hardest part of being his daughter. It’s hard for our children (she has three). It’s personally hard on all of us to hear any criticism. I think we all say we appreciate criticism and will take that constructively, but deep down it hurts.
“He has always been one who will be the one to cheer everybody up and say, ‘This is just part of that character-building process that we all go through.’ Sometimes, quite frankly, I just want to say, ‘I’ve had enough of building this character. Can we not just move on from this?’ He’s got a great quote that we all laugh about behind closed doors, and it actually comes from The Godfather. He says, ‘This is the life we’ve chosen.’