I was chatting with a couple of my co-workers recently about the Dallas Cowboys and their owner, Jerry Jones. In many ways, Jones was the first of the new breed of NFL owners in which the owner dominated much of the headlines sometimes even overshadowing the team.
By the mid 1990’s, Jerry had such a run of success that Pacific Trading Cards created a 1995 Crown Royale card of Jones as part of that set. That was the first time a card company had made a card of an owner and putting Jerry on the card turned out to be a great PR move as well as a nice selling point for Pacific.
At the time I had less to do than most of the rest of the team (the Almanac would be a year away) I was asked if I would go to the press conference. I don't remember much of anything that day except for how good Mr. Jones was at using his drawl and his smile to get his point across. Now, nearly 20 years later, he is still as good at doing that but has been the owner for exactly two playoff wins since the end of the 1995 season.
Another fun experience at the old Cowboys stadium came when Beckett bought a company called Pro Look which at the time had NFL licensed photos for sale. I don't remember all the details, after more than 15 years it is a bit hazy, but Pro Look had a booth at some early-season Cowboys event at Texas Stadium. What I remember most on that day was the event was actually being able to go on the field. It wasn’t hard to imagine the roaring crowd during some great moments for the franchise.
It reminded me of the 1990 U.S. Tennis Open which was literally the last thing I did before moving to Dallas to begin work at Beckett. I had, at that point, for several years, done stats at the tournament but despite having basically an all-access badge, had never gone certain places in the US Open complex. I realized there was a good chance I would never do stats at the Open again and wanted to experience something I had never done before. So with my badge and after finishing some work nearby, I went over to the Stadium court and just looked up into the full stands before the highly anticipated David Wheaton/John McEnroe match which would highlight the final 1990 night session. It was quite a thrill.
It is truly hard to imagine just how imposing a full stadium crowd can be when you are playing perhaps the biggest match of your life as Wheaton was. Although McEnroe destroyed Wheaton that night before falling to Pete Sampras in the semi-finals, to me the memory of just being in the moment, looking into the stands lasts forever. If you have never been so fortunate, let me assure you, when most athletes say they get stomach butterflies playing at a venue like that, they are correct.
Until today, I never wondered how after all these years how Jerry Jones felt about being on a football card but I know most of us would be excited about if we were on a card or if we knew someone who was. During my card dealing career, I had met several people who collected cards of their family members and I vividly remember Mike Armstrong’s mom placing an ad in Baseball Hobby News bidding for 1981 Fleer cards of her son.
To her, that was the best way to accumulate tons of cards of her son and while many collectors received her strong buy price (I think it was 25 cents for the 1981 Fleer, other collectors, understanding why she was asking would just send her those cards for free.
Whether it is meeting a player, dreaming of what it would be like to enter a packed stadium or building memories by picking up tangible items from a person’s career, that’s really what our hobby is about. We can build memories of what was and what will be.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]