Jerry Jones has had a sordid history as an NFL magnate. But as he’s embarked on his twilight years, Jones has saved his worst for last.
A lawsuit filed by a 25-year-old woman in a Dallas County Court alleges that his sleazy ownership of the Cowboys extends to his personal life as well. According to the lawsuit, Alexandra Davis, a Washington D.C. resident, alleges that the Cowboys owner is her father, but spent much of her childhood living in fear that disclosing the identity of her father would result in a loss of financial support. According to Davis’ lawsuit, she has been bound to secrecy since she was 1-years-old, by a confidentiality agreement her mother signed.
According to court documents reviewed by ESPN, Jones pursued her mother, Cynthia Davis Spencer, in 1995, while she was working as an American Airlines ticket counter in Little Rock, Arkansas. At the time, she was estranged from her husband. Soon after, Alexandra Davis was born on Dec. 16, 1996. According to court documents, during divorce proceedings from her husband, it was determined that Alexandra was not her husband’s child and that Alexandra Davis did not have a legal father.
The Dallas Morning News reached out to a personal spokesman for Jones, Jim Wilkerson, who issued a no comment.
When Davis Spencer signed the agreement in 1998, Jones denied being the father of Davis Spencer’s daughter. Instead, he agreed in settlement documents to pay Davis Spencer a lump sum of $375,000 in “exchange for confidentiality,” per ESPN’s Don Van Natta Jr. The nondisclosure agreement was arranged by an Arkansas lawyer and friend, Donald Jack. In addition to the lump-sum payment, Jones also set monthly, annual, and special funding from the trusts until she turned 21, after which she would receive annual lump sums at 24, 26, and 28 years old. The trust purportedly was made under the name of Jones’ friend to conceal the Cowboys owner’s identity.
Jones agreed to provide, through indirect means and with his identity hidden, ongoing financial support for Cynthia and Davis so long as Cynthia remained silent about the fact that he was Plaintiff’s father,” according to ESPN. “If Cynthia failed to maintain such silence, the support would end at Defendant Jones’ discretion, and Cynthia would supposedly be in breach of the deal.”
Jones, 79, arranged a pair of trusts containing hush money, including $375,000 paid to Davis Spencer. However, the nondisclosure agreement terms bound Davis Spencer and her daughter to secrecy.
That took some gall, but his gaslighting didn’t end there. Jones, who has three children with his wife Eugenia, who all have front-office roles with the Cowboys, told Cynthia Davis that he could not have children. In her court filing, Davis asked the a court to recognize her as Jones’ daughter and be released from the confidentiality agreement her mother agreed to when she was merely a one-year-old.
Given that background and those slights, Davis’ desire for the courts to revoke this agreement is understandable. Jones is one of the most well-known team owners in professional sports, and with an estimated value of $5.7 billion according to Forbes. His Cowboys franchise is one of the most influential brands in the entire sports industry.
After discovering the lawsuit on Dallas County courts’ website Monday, lawyers for Jones quickly persuaded a judge to seal Davis’ case until a March 31 hearing. If the allegations are true, the Jones’ may have some more significant issues to deal with than whether Mike McCarthy has what it takes to lead Dallas to a Super Bowl. The cat’s already out of the bag. Will Jones countersue? It will be interesting to see how Jones and his legal team pursue this case.
It’s a little frivolous to correlate the Cowboys quarter-century of futility with Jones’ indiscretion, but “ball don’t lie.” Earlier this month, the Cowboys agreed to a $2.4 million settlement with team cheerleaders who accused senior team executive, Richard Dalrymple, of recording or taking photos of them in their locker room without consent. In that case, the Cowboys declined to punish Dalrymple. Instead, the organization approached the four women and three of their spouses with an NDA in 2016, that prevented them from speaking publicly about their allegations. Dalrymple denies any wrongdoing.
Other owners have their fair share of improprieties, but Jones’ volume of scandals is overflowing. Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross stands accused of paying his former head coach to lose games (something Ross has denied), but at least that can be filed away as a professional offense. The bar is low for NFL owners. Dan Snyder seemingly has more lawsuits pending than wins and is connected to more scandals than Olivia Pope. But at least he treats his biological kids well. Since the Cowboys last won a Super Bowl, back in 1996 the same year Alexandra was born,, Jones has steadily moved up the ranks of the most despicable owners. The competition for most deplorable owner between Jones and Snyder may be the NFC East’s most competitive rivalry. Jones is not considered the worst owner in sports. He may, however, be the sleaziest person who owns a team.
Jerry Jones’ tenure as the Dallas Cowboys has been a story of early success, unnecessary drama, and wealth accumulation while their organization has failed to regain its peak. The Cowboys’ fall from grace has been littered with lawsuits, NDA’s, bullying women into silence, an extortion attempt involving their star running back, and attempts to cover up misconduct by men in positions of power. Maybe they indeed are America’s Team.