The run to a state championship game can be emotional for anyone involved, whether they’re a student athlete themselves or a member of their family. When that member of the family also grew up playing football, and has made the sport their entire life, that emotion becomes even more overpowering.
That’s precisely what has unfolded for Stephen Jones, the Chief Operating Officer of the Dallas Cowboys. His son, John Stephen Jones, is the starting quarterback of the Highland Park Scots, who will face off against Temple on Saturday for the Class 5A Division I state title. As one might expect, the younger Jones — who is also the grandson of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones — has had a heck of a junior season, passing for nearly 3,000 yards, 29 touchdowns and just seven interceptions.
So what has it been like for John Stephen Jones to leave his job at the Cowboys’ new training facility and football complex, The Star, and watch his son lead his boyhood team on to the field every week? According to a wide-ranging interview with the Dallas Morning News, the entire experience has been extremely emotional … and just as rewarding as the Cowboys’ Super Bowl triumphs of the 1990s.
“It’s just as good as winning those Super Bowls back in the ’90s,” Stephen Jones told the Morning News. “Hopefully we can get it done. I’m just so happy for him. He’s so fortunate to get to play for an amazing coach in Coach [Randy] Allen. And he’s got an amazing group of young men around him. The senior leadership on that team is second to none. He’s fortunate to have great teammates and be a small part of something.
“(Watching John Stephen Jones play is so) emotional. Raw emotion involved. … It’s just your son who you’ve seen work so hard to get something done. He’s just put so much effort into this. He’s always dreamed to be the quarterback at Highland Park. To watch his dream come true is fun. It’s exciting.”
As noted by the Morning News, the last time Highland Park captured a state crown the team was led by current Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, who may even be a dark horse candidate for NFL MVP in 2017.
No one is comparing the youngest Jones to Stafford, at least not yet, but his father did provide him with a rich complement nonetheless: Per the Cowboys COO, John Stephen Jones is the best athlete of the family, moreso than his grandfather (who won a national football title at Arkansas in 1964) and his dad, who was a linebacker for the Razorbacks in his own college career.
Now both the elder Jones’ will have their eyes on the youngest family football player as he tries to earn a championship of his own, playing right on their own turf at the Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium.