Go Red for Women Co-Chairs Jane and Andy Geisse met on a blind date in high school. It had been set up by mutual friends, who were dating. Andy called Jane up and asked her out. She said, “Great. Only there’s one thing…” She was on crutches due to falling off a car. The setup worked and they dated for seven years.
Then Jane was hired by Proctor & Gamble. Her boss asked if she knew a chap by the name of “Andy Geisse.” Wary she said, “Well, yes,” not knowing if he knew of their relationship. The boss said for her to thank Andy because he had turned down the job that she got.
They decided enough was enough and got married. That was 35 years ago.
On Friday, February 6, Jane watched Andy on stage rehearsing on stage in the Omni’s Dallas Ballroom and laughed when he started clowning around.
Outside in the lobby, it was a sea of red with gals like last year’s Go Red for Women Co-Chair Capera Ryan and her mom, Lee Bailey, Jocelyn White, Rachel Michell, Linda Ivy, Holly Reed, Nina Vaca, Robin Woith, Holly Reed, and Brill Garrett perusing the silent auction items benefiting the American Heart Association and some taking advantage of the wellness booths.
At 11, one of the featured on-stage guests, Charlotte Jones Anderson, arrived. She was going to have a full day. Later that evening she was throwing a little gathering for more than 20,000 for United Way of Greater Dallas.
She was moved to the VIP reception in a small suite at the far end of the lobby. At 11:20, word was passed that the other on-stage guest “Jerry (Jones)” was 15 minutes away.
Just 20 minutes later the doors officially opened to the ballroom. KTVT-CBS 11’s new anchor Kaylee Kelley arrived and reviewed the agenda. Jerry arrived. Rev. Sheron Patterson wearing a fox stole that had belonged to her mother posed for photos with Jerry.
Things were really starting to happen with last year’s Co-Chair/Circle of Red Chair Barbara Smith inviting guests to join the Circle of Red. Then it was the Geisses’ turn at the podium. Andy breezed through it without a hitch. At one point, Jane hesitated. It seems she was “way ahead of the teleprompter.” Jane explained the stop-action was due to the teleprompter. Such spontaneity was greeted by laughter. She picked up the pace again, only to have the teleprompter trip her up again. As they left the stage, Andy gave her a tip: “Never rely on the teleprompter.”
______ then presented the Sandi Haddock Award to Martha Hawthorne, who was escorted to the stage by her husband Doug. Next up was a video that ended with darkness and just the sound of a heart beating. On stage was Tabitha Millsop, who was born with Atrial Septal Defect and Pulmonary Stenosis. She told of the years of having undergone numerous treatments and surgeries, and that she was winning the war against heart disease thanks to funded research. With that a shout-out was made for donations. As she left the stage, Kaylee quietly told Tabitha of her admiration for telling her story.
After contributions were collected, AT&T CEO/Chairman of the Board Randall Stephenson appeared on the two mega-screens to introduce Charlotte and Jerry and moderator Brad “Voice of the Dallas Cowboys” Sham.
With Gene Jones in the audience, the trio settled back in chairs on stage with Charlotte in between the gents. Brad started off by saying it was interesting that Jerry was there because in the early days of the Dallas Cowboys ownership, there were those who didn’t think he had a heart at all.
Highlights from the conversation with Charlotte and Jerry included:
- Jerry announced that Dez did catch the ball.
- Brad asked whether Jerry had adopted Gov. Chris Christie yet. Jerry’s response, “Well, we’re sending him checks.”
- Jerry: “Everybody in this room knows I’ve had my share of negative issues…That keeps you talking. That keeps you interested.”
- When asked what it was like working with her father, Charlotte said, “You can’t get a word in edgewise?”
- Brad pointed out that when TV cameras show the Jones clan in their box, Charlotte is nowhere to be seen. She explained that she is “Working. I have a headset on.”
- According to Jerry, “The NFL is a respite for the real heroes in this country. And the real heroes are the ones who make the jobs. The real heroes are the ones who man the hospitals. The real heroes are the teachers. The real heroes are the folks who protect us. The NFL and television is [sic] a respite away from that… It’s turned out to be more than any of us could have ever thought.”
- Jerry recalled a time when Michael Irvin was being booked into jail wearing a fur coat. To turn the negative image around, Charlotte arranged for Jerry to meet with NBC-TV Chairman Dick Ebersol. NBC was going to telecast the upcoming Thanksgiving Day game. The morning the three were to meet with Ebersol, Jerry discovered Charlotte in her hotel room; “basically she’s sitting in there. She just has on a little, old workout deal on and she’s got her legs crossed in the middle of the floor. And, boy, she’s putting together a presentation for Dick Ebersol, the head of all NBC. I looked at that and said, ‘Well, Charlotte, this is good, but here’s what we’re gonna do today. I want you to sit back. You take a cue from me. But I’m gonna do the talking because this thing really has possible serious ramifications.’ Course, she was dutiful and said, ‘Fine.’ We get in the meeting And all of a sudden Dick starts looking at Charlotte. Obviously, he’s not looking at me anymore. And he starts listening to Charlotte and I’m pulled in a little bit, but that’s not there anymore. And all of a sudden, [it] comes out from something I couldn’t have expected. It was the most articulate description of how would you take Thanksgiving Day game that has eyeballs of 100 million people at times between the show program and the game? How would you take that and could we use the halftime that the NFL has and basically tell a story of a lot of people in need? He looked over at us and said we’ve never had anyone asked us for it. It’s a slow time for us because we only have at [that time] the two games on Thanksgiving. He said, ‘I’ll do it, but I want to tell you something: if it’s not great stuff, if it’s not Super Bowl quality, we’re going to cut away. I don’t care what you’ve done, we’re gonna show something else.” The end result not only worked, it was blockbuster. And it was when Jerry realized that Charlotte was a powerhouse.
- Jerry told that after he fired “iconic Tom Landry” and “I got my tail kicked,” a well-meaning person told him that when he showed up around town to have Gene or Charlotte standing by him to soften the blow.
- Jerry admitted that he had fired Brad at one point and was told by folks that he “didn’t have the authority to do that.”
Brad told Jerry and the audience that Charlotte should be made the Commissioner of the NFL.