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Depending on one's perspective, Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, is either an outlaw or a pioneer in sports marketing.

The actions of Mr. Jones that have created such an uproar in the business, and especially in the National Football League, essentially involve him trying to claim marketing-related revenues he believes are rightfully his.

Regardless of what opinions observers may have of him, there's no doubt Mr. Jones is out to exploit the marketing potential of the Cowboys, who have won three of the last four Super Bowls.

What Mr. Jones sees is that his team, the most valuable franchise in pro sports, accounts for about 20% of the NFL's team-related licensing revenue and generates the biggest TV ratings. Accordingly, he believes the club deserves a more proportional share of the $8 billion pie of TV rights fees, sponsorship and licensing revenue.

In addition, Mr. Jones wants to cut his own sponsorship and licensing deals for the Cowboys. That belief goes against the NFL's philosophy, where the business rule has been one-for-all instead of every man for himself.

So last year, Mr. Jones got American Express, Pepsi-Cola Co. and Nike to sponsor Texas Stadium, the Cowboys' home field. This pact not only reinforced Mr. Jones' stature as a renegade marketing force in the NFL, but it linked "America's Team" with the opponents of three NFL leaguewide sponsors: Visa USA, Coca-Cola Co. and Reebok.

In return, Mr. Jones got about $40 million-enough to sign coveted free agent Deion Sanders, who helped the Cowboys reclaim their Super Bowl crown in January.

The NFL and Mr. Jones are currently suing each other: the NFL for $350 million, Mr. Jones for $500 million. The outcome will be widely seen as a referendum on how NFL Properties and the league's teams do business.

Eventually, Mr. Jones' fellow owners will have to decide which side of the argument to support. The outcome promises to have significant ramifications for sponsors. In the meantime, Mr. Jones is looking for more deals.

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