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Tell me about Jack Kent Cooke

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Old 03-23-2009, 08:15 PM   #1
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Tell me about Jack Kent Cooke

Update (April 22, 2009): Just got my paper back today expecting a C or D based on how my professor described his grading criteria. Instead it turns out I ended up with an A (91/100 no A-'s in Georgia). So with that said I want to once again express my appreciation to everyone who helped me out with the thread. This is 30% of my grade in the class so it definitely means a lot. Now all I have to do is help out on the group project that counts as 40% of the grade.

I'm currently in the middle of writing a 2,000 word paper for my Entrepreneurial class and as you may have already guessed my paper is on the late great Jack Kent Cooke (was originally going to write about Snyder but I don't think he qualifies as historical).

However I only really know limited amounts about his involvement with the Redskins. If anyone could provide any factoids on his dealings with the other teams he owned as well as the businesses he started before becoming an owner then that would be much appreciated.

The actual question reads as follows:
'Growing a business is a difficult challenge'. With reference to a historical entrepreneur of your choice, explore and explain the key factors behind their business growth and success.

Information can include anything from his personallity, style of management, factoids about his old business, how he balanced raising a family, and virtually anything else you may know.
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Old 03-23-2009, 08:35 PM   #2
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Re: Tell me about Jack Kent Cooke

He owned the Lakers too man. Im pretty sure the Forum was built under his ownership. Had a young hot wife who claimed she got pregnant by good ole Jack. Best bloody owner in all of football...spent cash on his players and coaches! Signed Wilbur Marshall which pretty much set in motion todays version of free agency. Also was keen on raiding the USFL of many top players which helped Redskins win SB. I believe early on he was a salesmen of some sort. Should be tons of info on him somewhere though.
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Old 03-23-2009, 08:37 PM   #3
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Re: Tell me about Jack Kent Cooke

Dirtbag:

JKC was indeed a character. He owned/built the Fabulous Forum in LA and owned the LA Kings and the LA Lakers for a time. He owned radio, TV and newspapers too. He once owned a minor league baseball team and tried to buy a major league baseball team and move it to Toronto in the late 50s/early 60s as I recall.


Early on as Skins' owner he stayed in LA and allowed Edward Bennett Williams (Washington lawyer of no small reputation) to run the Skins. Williams owned a small part of the team (7% I think). Then Cooke severed his LA ties - - proximal to one of his several divorces - - and moved east to an estate in Upperville/Middleburg VA. That is when he bought out Williams and became the guiding force of the Redskins and built the team by spending more money on the Skins than any other owner of the 1980s spent on their teams -- except perhaps for Eddie deBartolo in SF. [BTW, Edward Bennett Williams then purchased the Baltimore Orioles and ran that team for a while...]


If you are doing a paper on JKC, leave room for a section on how he thought he might outsmart the Feds and the IRS with regard to his estate taxes and created an arcane will that all but guaranteed that his son could not own the team. That is how the team was up for sale in the late 90s - first to the Millstein Bros and subsequently to Danny Boy - all because JKC's intracate will made it such that the estate had to sell the team to pay the estate taxes that JKC thought he was going to avoid.


As I understand it, the key to his tax machinations was that the Chrysler Bldg in NYC - - which he also owned - - was supposed to be valuable enough to sell quickly and pay all the estate tax that might be due. Unfortunately, the Chrysler Bldg wasn't worth more than about 60% of what the estate needed to raise to pay the estate tax - - even with all of is hedges and shelters and foundations and all that stuff. And that is where the house of cards began to fall...


Just a guess, but Smootsmack should have info for you on this subject too...


Good luck.
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Old 03-23-2009, 09:04 PM   #4
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Re: Tell me about Jack Kent Cooke

So, just to be clear, you want info on JKC before the Redskins?
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Old 03-23-2009, 09:07 PM   #5
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Re: Tell me about Jack Kent Cooke

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Originally Posted by SmootSmack View Post
So, just to be clear, you want info on JKC before the Redskins?
Virtually anythings ok. A main reason I'm asking here is a lot of you guys know about the aspects that usually get left out of biographies. Mainly his personality and his demeanor as well as his style of management. On top of that I figured that a lot of people would help me zero in on the important aspects of his legacy and basically highlight what I should follow up on. In the meantime why you think he was able to be so successful would be a huge help. But yeah, just feel free to fire away with whatever you got.

Also thanks for the responses so far. Definitely helpful. I'm currently up to 422 words though I plan on finishing the body tonight and take care of the citations and cover page tomorrow.
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Old 03-23-2009, 09:50 PM   #6
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Re: Tell me about Jack Kent Cooke

Curmudgeon covered a lot, JKC tried to move the Tigers and St. Louis Browns (now Orioles) to Toronto.

He was kind of similar to Snyder when he went after Spurrier, in that Cooke thought our team was boring and wouldn't attract fans under Pardee's defense-first coaching style so he wanted an aerial offensive guy. Hence Gibbs.
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Old 03-23-2009, 09:55 PM   #7
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Re: Tell me about Jack Kent Cooke

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Originally Posted by Dirtbag359 View Post
I'm currently in the middle of writing a 2,000 word paper for my Entrepreneurial class and as you may have already guessed my paper is on the late great Jack Kent Cooke (was originally going to write about Snyder but I don't think he qualifies as historical).

However I only really know limited amounts about his involvement with the Redskins. If anyone could provide any factoids on his dealings with the other teams he owned as well as the businesses he started before becoming an owner then that would be much appreciated.

The actual question reads as follows:
'Growing a business is a difficult challenge'. With reference to a historical entrepreneur of your choice, explore and explain the key factors behind their business growth and success.

Information can include anything from his personallity, style of management, factoids about his old business, how he balanced raising a family, and virtually anything else you may know.
I soooo misread that. I thought you were typing the longest paper in world history.
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Old 03-23-2009, 09:57 PM   #8
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Re: Tell me about Jack Kent Cooke

I remember reading the bio's at the time of his passing. He was truly a self-made man. He sold Encyclopedias door-to-door during the Depression. If you can make a living doing that, you're a hell of a salesman. From that, he got into the cable business at some point. That was the basis of his fortune.
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Old 03-23-2009, 10:01 PM   #9
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Re: Tell me about Jack Kent Cooke

portscurmudgeon is correct about JKC's will and the ownership succession problems. I have continued think that this was a great tragedy for the Redskins. What if the Redskins had stayed in the Cooke family instead of entering Snyder's hands?

JKC enthusiastically supported the Redskins in every positive way. He also kept his nose out of practical football business and was not one of those owners who micromanaged personnel decisions or coaching/strategy. He left winning games up to the football professionals, whom he paid well. As such, in terms of micromanaging the team he was the anti-Snyder. Because of this, he was a great owner and we won three Super Bowls with the checkbook in his hand.
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Old 03-23-2009, 10:10 PM   #10
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Re: Tell me about Jack Kent Cooke

My favorite line form JKC is about the LA Kings. The reason he thought hockey would be a big success is that he read that there were something like 300,000 Canadians living in the greater L.A area. After a couple of seasons he remarked that they must have left Canada because they hated hockey.

You can download Mr. Cooke's biography here:

Jack Kent Cooke Foundation - About Jack Kent Cooke

Oh yeah. Another interesting thing a lot of people don't know is that Cooke's son Ralph's first wife later married Pete Rozelle. When Rozelle gave Cooke the Lombardi trophy for SB 17 JKC said, "Do I get to keep this one?"

Note: That Wiki link about Carrie Rozelle seems to confuse Ralph Cooke with his father.
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Old 03-24-2009, 01:08 AM   #11
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Re: Tell me about Jack Kent Cooke

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Originally Posted by WaldSkins View Post
I soooo misread that. I thought you were typing the longest paper in world history.
Actually when I first posted the thread I wrote 2,000 page paper. It has obviously since been edited. So it's not like you're the only one.
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Old 03-24-2009, 07:36 AM   #12
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Re: Tell me about Jack Kent Cooke

Quote:
Wilson worked two years under the legendary Jack Kent Cooke of the Lakers. He and a co-worker were the stars of the Lakers sales staff, which worked solely on commission. In his brief stay there, he made considerable money for the times. When the season ended, the two were summoned to Cooke’s office for what they assumed would be a pat on the back – and, very likely, a bonus. Instead Cooke told them they’d never make that much money again, pulled all their files and distributed their business among the rest of the staff.

“Cooke ran an organization by fear,” Wilson said. “That affected (his relationship with Davidson) for years. The first two or three years, when we were really struggling, I kept thinking he was going to come to his senses soon and realize this was a mistake. Cooke fired three-quarters of the people who worked there in the two years I was there, and that figure is probably low. The VP of sales changed five times in two years. There was no trust there; here it’s complete trust. That sort of freedom allows you the daring that you need. If you don’t have the ability to be wrong, you don’t have the ability to be really, really right.”
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Old 03-24-2009, 09:30 AM   #13
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Re: Tell me about Jack Kent Cooke

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Was he in the first Pay per veiw? Boxing at the Garden. Foreman, Ali? Like Brokered the deal maybe an agent?
Right. He bankrolled that fight and was the promoter. Don King before Don King
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Old 03-24-2009, 09:37 AM   #14
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Re: Tell me about Jack Kent Cooke

JKC also at one point owned Muzak (so all that music you'd hear in elevators and in retail stores, that belonged to him), and part of Showtime
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Old 03-24-2009, 10:46 AM   #15
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Re: Tell me about Jack Kent Cooke

For what's it worth, growing up in the city, DC loved Jack Kent Cooke the owner. His personal life was another story. Cooke was a winner to the core. I also suspect it's one of the reasons the area hasn't, 'till this very day, fully embraced Dan Snyder. Every now and then, I still hear the old timers talk about Cooke.

I can say for me at least, there are probably three or four faces that I've come to associate with the franchise over the years. Jack Kent Cooke was most definitely one of them. I still remember him wearing those dark sunglasses and a checkered hat like it was yesterday.
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