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Likely Stories Like Father Like Daughter

Jerry Jone’s only daughter, Charlotte Jones Anderson, is embracing her 10th year as a marketing director for the perennial bad-boy Cowboys. Lucky for her, she’s inherited her father’s obstinacy.
By Kimberly Goad |

IT CAN’T BE EASY.

Working at the family firm. Answering to an owner and general manager you know as Dad. but now refer to as Jerry. Picking up a sport you had no interest in as a bookish, “nerdy” kid growing up in Little Rock, Arkansas. Unwittingly finding yourself at the center of heated conversations about the most controversial man in town-Dad/Jerry to you; *$!#?! to everybody else. And then there’s the job itself: coming up with creative ways to shape (and reshape) the image of a bunch of guys who like to misbehave,

It can’t be easy.

Don’t be so sure. Charlotte Jones Anderson-the Cowboys VP in charge of marketing and special events-is her father’s daughter: Single-minded about the bottom line, near-genius at the kind of creative marketing that serves that bottom line. not to mention fast talking, smooth, aloof ther father’s daughter). If not for the Gene Jones pan of her-the warmth, the poise- Anderson likely wouldn’t be. at 33. among the highest ranking women in the NFL. All those guys would’ve found her brash and obnoxious.

You could dismiss Anderson as simply well- bom, until you look at how she’s turned the traditional money losers at Valley Ranch-the cheerleaders and training camp-into moneymakers.

She is the Christie Hefner of the Dallas Cowboys, the brainy daughter who wandered into the unlikeliest of careers because of Dad. Had Jerry Jones stayed in Arkansas and tended his oil business, Anderson-who graduated valedictorian from Little Rock Central High School and Stanford with a degree in human biology and organizational management-might have become a doctor or a politician. Instead, like the daughter of Hugh Hefner, she took the T&A of Dad’s business and transformed it: in the case of the Cowboys, from aP.R. vehicle that was losing $250,000 a year into a revenue-generating P.R. machine.

It was (0 years ago that Jerry Jones blew into town, bought the Cowboys, fired Tom Landry, and then-in a move that revealed just how PR-challenged Jones was (and would always be)-began messing around with the Cowboys Cheerleaders. (You know what I mean.)

In an apparent attempt to recreate them in his own vision {Tex who?), Jones wanted the girls to trade in their belly-button-baring hot pants, Daisy Mae lop, and white go-go boots for biker shorts and halter-top. That wasn’t all: He also wanted the cheerleaders to serve as hostesses at player parties and to pay the team a portion of the profits from their public appearances.

To no one “5 surprise-except maybe Jerry Jones’-the cheerleaders got their pompoms in a wad, The squad’s director quit; 14 of the 38 cheerleaders walked out. And Jones tried to backpedal, saying things like “This is a very sensitive area” and “These women certainly are the pick of the litter….” Unable to spin his way out of this one, he turned to the one person most like him: the one who thinks like him, talks like him, looks like him, but- and this was key-wasn’t him. The same person who, not coincidentally. helped him woo Troy Aikman the weekend of his first NFL draft.

Jerry Jones called his daughter.

Charlotte Jones, 23 at the time, was suffering a spate of bad press herself. Working as an administrative assistant to Congressman Tommy Robinson, the Democrat from Arkansas, she made headlines when the media discovered that her salary had doubled from $31,000 to 5>60,OOO in less than a year and that her father, Robinson’s boyhood friend, had contributed generously to the Congressman’s campaign. Charlotte handled the negative publicity (“Daughter of Cowboys’ New Owner Gets Big Pay Raise”) like a true Jones-she refused to comment. Her father, meanwhile, offered his own brand of support with reassurances that blistering press was an undeniable part of life. The situation went from awkward to ugly when Robinson began criticizing a 1982 gas deal between Jerry Jones and Sheffield Nelson, Robinson’s opponent in the upcoming Arkansas gubernatorial primary. Charlotte Jones found herself in the unenviable position of holding press conferences to defend the actions of a man who was criticizing her father.

“When she joined us, she was bruised.” says Jerry Jones. “She’d gotten a doctor’s degree in how to gel criticized and 1 was gelling a doctor’s degree in how to get criticized. So 1 knew this wouldn’t be nerve-rattling territory for her to come into. 1 needed her perspective and her experience. Bui it was more of her wanting to help me. than it was anything she wanted to do.”

Whether Jerry Jones actually needed his daughter in Dallas or simply out of Washington was not clear, although this much was: Charlotte Jones, not even two years out of college, had already learned a fundamental truth about being Jerry’s kid. She would spend her professional life saddled with Dad’s baggage.

The Stanford graduate with a promising future left Washington for Dallas, where a group of scantily clad cheerleaders awaited the arrival of the newly appointed president of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Charlotte Jones.

His daughter.





BY THE END OF HER FIRST YEAR, Charlotte, along with Cheerleaders director Kelly McGonagill Finglass. had come up with a plan to offset losses through sponsorships and revenue producers like a swimsuit calendar, summer dance camp, and cheerleader dolls.

“Charlotte has a lot of Jerry in her,” says Finglass. “It’s the same qualities. When they have a vision, they don’t see obstacles, they don’t accept ’no.’”

Jem’ Jones certainly wouldn’t have accepted “no” when he asked his daughter to do for training camp what she’d done for the cheerleaders-despite the fact that she was, technically, living in Little Rock, commuting to work, and living part-time with brother Stephen. Involved in a long-distance relationship with her hometown sweetheart, a telecommunications executive named Shy Anderson. Charlotte spent weekdays in Dallas and weekends in Little Rock. They married in 1991, but she continued to commute between cities until he transferred to Dallas a year ago.

“My father was gone a lot when we were young,” she offers as rationale. “His office was in Oklahoma and we lived in Little Rock. He was gone during the week and then came home on weekends. He always said to me: ’I used to do it. You can do it, too.”’



ANDERSON IS EN ROUTE TO NEW YORK FOR a meeting at CBS to discuss the telecast of this year’s Cowboys’ Thanksgiving Day halftime show. Her work is spread across her lap when the woman seated next to her asks about Anderson’s job. Anderson, the only one in the family whose name affords her the luxury of anonymity, offers her standard response: “I’m in marketing for the Cowboys.”

Rather than quizzing her with the usual (“What’s it like to work for *$!#*! ?”), the woman has something else on her mind. She wants to know if Anderson has ever been inside Jerry and Gene Jones’ home (the sprawling Mediterranean style house on the comer of Preston and Armstrong).

“Oh,” Anderson says, surprised, “well, yes, I have.”

“Is it fabulous?” the woman wants to know.

Anderson-who normally sits back and says nothing while her inquisitor sounds off about the Cowboys and/or her father-confesses. “This isn’t fair,” she says. “I should tell you, they’re my parents.”

What would have likely turned into a gossip-gathering expedition is abruptly cut short by Anderson’s admission. Not that Anderson is easily fazed. She’s grown curiously accustomed to the criticisms of her father and typically responds with a page out of Dad’s quote book: “Don’t always believe what you read in the papers.”

Criticisms directed at the Cowboys, however, are another matter. It’s her job to keep the team’s image clean: as part owner, along with brothers Stephen and Jerry Jr., it’s also in her best interest.

“You can have a list of the good things the Cowboys are doing and you can give that to the media and they’ll still do the story that’s more controversial,” says Anderson. “They go to Children’s hospital and give a million dollars, but who cares? The media would rather write about somebody who wrecked their car that night.” Or was accused of raping a topless dancer or doing drugs or carrying a handgun into DFW airport or.. .oh, never mind. “They want that little twist,” Anderson says, continuing. “Dad always says, ’Charlotte, don’t worry about what they say in the papers. It’s never true anyway.”

At the close of the 1996/’97 season, the year the Cowboys turned misbehaving into an art form, Anderson found herself in an impromptu conversation sharing her frustrations with Frito-Lay chairman and CEO Steve Reinemund, who was also chairman of the national advisory board of the Salvation Army. He was bemoaning the fact that the Salvation Army goes largely unrecognized for the work it does. “We had a lot in common,” Anderson says. “Both of us do a lot of good and no one knows it.”

Her idea: produce a Super Bowl-like half-time show for the Cowboys’ Thanksgiving Day game that would relay the message: “This is what our players do. This is what die Salvation Army does. And you know what? We’re all good people.”

She pitched the idea to her father who found it “very imaginative and ambitious” (once he got past the fact that a Super Bowl halftime show costs around $750,000). They flew to New York and Anderson persuaded Dick Ebersol, then president of NBC Sports, to air the eight-minute presentation, which essentially meant foregoing millions in advertising revenue. “He said, ’You want me to pull my commercials and cover it?’ I said, ’You got it!’ He said, ’What a great idea. Nobody has ever asked me to do a good-will program.’”

The halftime show aired the following Thanksgiving before an audience of 53 million people. Videotaped footage showed Cowboy players visiting victims of the Oklahoma City bombing; Troy Aikman walked out onto the field and made a generous donation to the Salvation Army on behalf of the team; Reba McEntire sang a song specially written for the occasion.

The Cowboys were portrayed as heroes before a national audience.

Buoyed by the success of the extravaganza, Anderson began pushing for a company mandate that required players to meet a quota of personal appearances. Alas, after several rounds with the team owner and general man-ager-the man known alternately as Dad/Jerry/*$!#?!-she was forced to take “no” for an answer.

“She’s very persistent,” says Jones. “The higher the mark, die bigger the challenge, the better she is.”

Like Dad?

“I’m talking about Charlotte, not me.”