Part of an occasional series of reports from Stephen about the people he’s met while making the show.
Several months ago, our producer Dan Frank was trying to get Jerry Jones to agree to be on camera with us for the show.
“Don’t get your hopes up,” he told me.
It seemed like a longshot to Dan, given the crazy schedule the Dallas Cowboys owner maintains and the demands on his attention. Who were we? But I felt confident that Jerry would want to talk about the building he made. Why wouldn’t he want to show off something he’s proud of?
Not too long after the request was made, Dan reported that Jerry would be happy to spend some time with us. I guess he figured talking to an architect about his building would easier than his press conferences with the sports media.
What was especially great was that Jerry not only agreed to spend time with us, but he gave us the run of the place. Basically, we were allowed to go anywhere in the building: player areas, press boxes, the most private of luxury suites. We were even allowed to fly a drone with a camera inside the building so that we could get dynamic aerial shots. (Most buildings don’t let us do this.) Jerry wanted us to see it all. And I can’t thank him enough for granting us this opportunity because it enabled us to tell the whole story behind the building.
We met on “picture day,” when the players, coaches, and staff come to the stadium for team photos. Our crew set up for the interview on one of the main interior concourses. Next to us, the uniformed players milled about, joking and jostling with each other like the twenty-somethings they are. When Jerry arrived with the head coach Jason Garrett, the players settled down a bit and everyone lined up for the photos. (You can see them setting up in the image above.) After about 20 minutes, just before Jerry came over to see us, a media adviser told us that we could ask only the prepared questions we had previously submitted, and to keep it short. Our producer assured him we would be brief.
After the photos, Jerry walked over and warmly greeted Dan and me. He thanked us for coming and for deciding to profile his new stadium. I wasn’t sure if I would be nervous or not while interacting with him. But as it turned out, it wasn’t an issue. Jerry was so friendly and warm, we just started chatting. After about five minutes, the producer broke in to let him know that we were already filming. And so we just continued chatting.
Mostly, I would ask a simple question — like “what’s your favorite part of the building?” — and Jerry would run with it. And he would go on and on. I actually think he really enjoyed it. Clearly I was impressed by the building and was happy to learn as much as I could about it. Who else would care about the finish of the concrete floors? In fact, he spent several minutes telling me about how they developed the polished concrete finish of the concourse floors. He told me how much time he personally spent to ensure the perfect finish. Then he spent another several minutes talking about how important the presentation of every single space in the stadium was. He even asked me if I had been to the bathroom and if I saw any paper or trash on the floor. (I didn’t.) He grinned and asked me if we I noticed the artwork. (Yes, I most certainly did.) And we went on and on … for a good 20 minutes. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the public relations person looking at his watch. But it seemed that as long as Jerry was OK, he didn’t need to stop the interview.
Looking back, I imagine it was a lot easier for Jerry to answer questions about his incredible stadium than to have a pesky reporter ask why the Cowboys weren’t in the playoffs again.
Coming soon: Part 2: What we talked about off-camera.