Robert Kraft and Jerry Jones: The Owners of the NFL’s Most Valuable Teams Share a Common Bond

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones are always prepared to battle it out viciously on the football field. You don’t rise to the top of the NFL without a healthy competitive spirit.

With six for Robert Kraft and three for Jerry Jones, the pair have a remarkable nine Super Bowl championship rings between them. A recent assessment by Forbes Magazine estimated the net worth of the Patriots at $5 billion and the net worth of the Cowboys at $6.5 billion. This makes the Cowboys the most valuable team and the Patriots the second most value team in the NFL.

Both Robert Kraft and Jerry Jones, are also widely respected as some of the greatest business minds in the NFL. The founder, chairman, and he is CEO of the Kraft Group, Robert Kraft is responsible for a portfolio of businesses and brands that range across a broad spectrum of industries and market sectors. His accomplishments in the NFL include leading negotiations to secure substantial television deals for the league and helping to put an end the 2011 player lockout. An impressive business leader in his own right, Jerry Jones is well-known for driving innovations in fields such as marketing, corporate sponsorship, and stadium development.

When Robert Kraft entered the NFL in 1994, Jerry Jones had already been there for nearly five years. Excited about what Kraft had to offer the league, Jones took him under his wing immediately. “At the Atlanta Super Bowl, I invited him [and] he sat in the box with me at that game,” said Jones. “I was very optimistic. Bob had come in a succession of owners that had really been challenged and I knew that he had really stepped up.”

Jones found something of a kindred spirit in Kraft.  “I felt like we were in similar shoes. I saw a lot of similarities to when I got involved with the Cowboys and so I really wanted him to have the benefit of anything I had learned in my first four, five years in the NFL. And he’s got a great personality. He’s really easy to befriend and talk to. We both had a common ground in how we were motivated and how we looked at the future of the NFL and our franchise. So it was easy to have that relationship.”

Jerry Jones particularly liked Robert Kraft’s outstanding financial commitment to the NFL. Kraft paid the highest price for a franchise in the history of organized sports when he bought the Patriots in 1994, and he was eager to optimize his return on that extremely substantial investment. This focus made Jerry Jones an obvious and easy collaborator and ally.

“When Jerry bought the Cowboys five years earlier, he introduced a new and aggressive way to market his team and maximize the revenue in his market,” recalls Kraft. “He shook the norm and changed the way NFL owners do business.”

In addition to crediting Jerry Jones with blazing a professional trail that he and many other new owners have followed; Robert Kraft appreciates the man on a personal level. “I have always enjoyed talking with Jerry,” said Kraft. “He is passionate about his Cowboys and has great vision for building a brand. I have been on a number of league committees with him over the last three decades, which have given us each ample opportunities to discuss league business and the future of the NFL.”

Although Robert Kraft and Jerry Jones view each other as allies within the league, they don’t see eye to eye on every issue. And they are certainly fierce athletic competitors.

Speaking to their alliance and common vision in the board room, Jerry Jones says that “it’s not a natural partnership to compete the way we compete, and that is there. And all the nuances that go with it — jealousies, competitiveness, all the things that you have when it’s your team and your city against the other guy’s team and the other guy’s city.”

But in the end, Jones credits Kraft with working through the “competitiveness and natural at-odds that you have” in order to collaborate for mutually beneficial ends. “He’s managed to work through that,” said Jones, “and helped me get through it.”

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