2 owners, 1 similarity Jones and Rooney: The brash Cowboys' boss and understated Steelers' head share but one quality -- the ability to succeed.

January 27, 1996|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

TEMPE, Ariz. -- To understand the difference in the styles of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney, it is only necessary to look at the teams'

media guides.

Jones has a five-page spread in the Cowboys' guide, starting with a full-page picture. His son, Stephen, gets another page.

It's a bit harder to find Dan Rooney in the Steelers' media guide. Under administration, there are two lines of type: DANIEL M. ROONEY, President.

The guide also has a three-page, decade-by-decade history of the Steelers that starts with how his father, Art Rooney Sr., founded the team in 1933.

Six paragraphs from the bottom, it mentions that Dan Rooney was named team president in 1975 and includes some background on him.

Rooney thinks the organization should get the attention and he always thinks of the players and fans first.

The difference in the media guides illustrates perfectly the contrast in the way the two men operate the teams that will play tomorrow in Super Bowl XXX. The only thing they share is success.

Jones never met a camera he didn't like. He attends every news conference and was the first owner to have his own table at Super Bowl news conferences.

Rooney, who recently underwent gall bladder surgery, likes to stay in the background. Reporters had to ask when he'd be available this week and he finally agreed to one session.

Jones has been in the league since 1989 and has fired Tom Landry and pushed out Jimmy Johnson. Since 1969, Rooney has hired two coaches -- Chuck Noll and Bill Cowher.

Jones is a master salesman who was sued for $300 million by the league for his marketing deals outside the umbrella of NFL Properties. Jones filed a $750 million counter-suit. Rooney believes in doing things the league way.

Jones has said the owners can't stop the Cleveland Browns from moving and said it could be a positive if the league winds up with new stadiums in Baltimore and Cleveland. Rooney has been the most vocal critic of the move.

Rooney is the consummate league man who likes to work behind the scenes in negotiating such things as a labor agreement and has the quaint idea that football is the product he's selling.

"We're here for the game. We're not here for Nike. We're not here for Pepsi. We're not here for Coke," Rooney said.

Rooney, though, concedes Jones has had his impact. In the Steelers' 15-year absence from the Super Bowl, he said the game has gotten a lot bigger.

"There's more hype. To be quite honest with you, it is more Jerry Jones. It's more selling. It's more NFL Properties. I really believe the game is the important thing. That should be our principal purpose here," he said.

Jones, though, likes to point out there are similarities between the two teams. He points out he's also a family operation.

L "My family owns 100 percent of the Dallas Cowboys," he said.

He quickly added: "I'm no Art Rooney; don't put that [Lloyd] Bentsen, John F. Kennedy thing on me. I'm no Art Rooney and I'm no George Halas. But if you look back on Art Rooney, he had his sons closely working with him. My daughter and two sons are my key people in our organization. This is a family business."

Despite all his marketing deals, Jones said when he pays big signing bonuses, "I go down to the family bank account and pull the money out. I cashed CDs that were both in mine and my wife's names, cashed them in so I had the money in the bank to write the check."

Defending his marketing approach, he said, "These are different times. They call for different methods to compete."

Jones says that in 30 years, he hopes his family will be thought of in the same regard as the Rooneys.

Dan Rooney responded it'll take Jones more than 30 years.

"We've been in this 60 years," he said.

The personal styles of the two men are so different, too.

Rooney recently moved back from the Pittsburgh suburbs to the house on the North Side where he grew up and his father lived until he died in 1988 at the age of 87.

It's no longer in the best of neighborhoods, but it's walking

distance to both his church and Three Rivers Stadium.

"It's a great house, it's great for me. The house was started in 1865 and finished in 1968. It took us about a year to fix it up and then we moved in," Rooney said.

Jones lives more the lifestyle of the rich and famous.

In a recently published unauthorized biography, "King of the Cowboys," there are allegations of womanizing and drinking.

Jones approached the author, Jim Dent, at a league party the night before the NFC title game two weeks ago and laced into him with many expletives. Dent replied in kind before Jones was pulled away.

"They are lies," he told the Dallas Morning News this week of the allegations in the book.

He said he considered taking legal action, but said, "I was told to just ignore it. It's the only thing to do."

His wife, Gene, is at the Super Bowl with Jones and defended him. "They are just lies and you don't know where they're coming from," she said.

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