Being part of the team
National Advisory Organizations Conference 2007
Jerry Jones uses football analogy to encourage NAOC attendees.
National Advisory Board member Jerry Jones emphasizes a point during a speech to NAOC delegates.
Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys and honorary co-chairman with his wife Gene of the National Advisory Organizations Conference, greeted the delegates stating how excited he was to be with them and to be on the same team.
Jones revealed that he and his family don’t feel like they own the Dallas Cowboys. “There’s a synergy here with being a part of your team in some small way,” he stated. “I don’t think you can own the Cowboys like you can a house or an investment. You can’t own Notre Dame; you can’t own the University of Texas. It’s made up of fans, of the college students. What we have a chance to do is to run with the ball with our skills [for] a little while. That’s the way we feel about it.”
He mentioned that there are tickertape parades for war heroes, astronauts and people who win games. “Here,” he said, “is a place for the heroes—the men and women helping the downtrodden, for the men and women using all their energy and all their resourcefulness to help their fellow man. It is a place of respite for people when they have a little tougher day, a little rougher week, a little rougher time in their lives.”
Jones used the analogy of a burly 300-pound man charging someone. “You’ve said the wrong thing at the wrong time, and here he comes and he’s charging. Well, rather than trying to become the equivalent of what he is, the best way to handle him is to step aside and let his own momentum grab him. Let him, of his own momentum, get the job done for you.”
He continued, “Well, teammates, that’s what Charlotte and Gene and I had in mind. That’s what Steve Reinemund had in mind when he was chairman of the National Advisory Board. We said that the visibility of team, the interest there is in sports. Is there some way we could take that and do something really special? To say thank you to the people of The Salvation Army, to the volunteers, to the officers, to the generations of the local board members—thank you, Salvation Army, for what you’re bringing to the table.”
Recounting the story of securing from NBC the half-time interval for the Thanksgiving Day game for the Red Kettle kickoff, Jones said: “We’ve always known our game had a special place on Thanksgiving Day, because it is a time when people around the country are not only celebrating our great holiday, but they’re looking at the game; they’re interested in what happens that day.
“We met with the head of NBC and asked for half-time because during half-time we want to recognize and celebrate a great institution in this country.”
Jerry stated that The Salvation Army has inspired many people, including celebrities. The Army is so inspirational that the Cowboys organization decided to put the red kettles in the corners of the end zone for every ball game, realizing it’s an opportunity to recognize and tell a wonderful story. Although there are rules about having things that the players can run into or that might obstruct views, the purpose of the kettle is to be seen!
He continued by saying that the work of The Salvation Army is serious business. He stated that it’s necessary to have enthusiasm and passion and purpose. When he thinks of the Army, he thinks of a champion team with a purpose, with a goal. He said, “That is why I admire you so much. Because you deal with the everyday things that traditionally have been dealt with since the beginning of this organization, but you’re thinking forward, you’re thinking it out…the most important thing abut thinking about a championship is to make sure we’re aligned and we keep refreshing that alignment.”
Jones cited the example of several athletes who pictured victory ahead of time, who sacrificed individual interest for the good of the whole team and who inspired many others. He spoke specifically of George Foreman, Michael Irvin, Troy Aikman and Jay Novacek. In one game Aikman unexpectedly threw the ball to Novacek who made a touchdown. Later on, when Novacek asked, “Why did you throw that ball?” Aikman replied, “Because I knew you would be there.”
He related this to the Army. “Ladies and gentlemen, when I think of The Salvation Army, when I think of the tradition and of the years of your service to the people who need it, I know you’re going to be there. I knew you were going to be there then, and I know you’re going to be there in the future as an organization. Inspirational? You bet! You do inspire everyone that really gets an opportunity to understand.”
In his concluding remarks Jones said, “I want to share with you the principle we operate on—what our skill is. In sports and with the Dallas Cowboys we call it ‘emptying our bucket.’ We really expect an individual to empty their bucket, to bring all and give all. The Cowboys are so inspired by our association with The Salvation Army that we want to empty our bucket every chance we get.
“I want you to know that it’s a thrill that we’re having this conference in Dallas, and it gives me an opportunity to share with you who share with thousands of others, just exactly how we feel. We’re more motivated, we’re more interested, more excited about looking for ideas for the future than we’ve ever been.
“I want to say this to you—long after they’re going to forget about who builds a sports team or record—long after they’ll forget about who built these great buildings in Dallas or New York—long after those people are forgotten, they’re going to remember the builders of men and women. To me that’s The Salvation Army. It’s wonderful to be with you. Thank you for being in Dallas.”