FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — When Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was announced as a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August 2016, brainstorming began in earnest inside the Arkansas athletic department.
Jones was likely to be a first-ballot selection (which he did indeed become months later). So, how should the Razorbacks honor an alumnus and former team captain who has done so much to put the school on the map? Some ideas were thrown around, but nothing really jumped out.
A few months later, the perfect idea revealed itself.
Hayden Redd was watching the Cowboys play the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday Night Football when inspiration struck.
What if Arkansas replicated the Cowboys’ uniform design to honor Jones?
After all, the Razorbacks play Texas A&M annually at the home of the Cowboys, AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, providing a perfect showcase opportunity.
Two days after coming up with the idea, Redd began trying out some concepts in Photoshop.
“I’m not a Photoshop guy,” Redd said. “I don’t know how it works. But I knew just enough I could pick a color and change it. So, essentially I was just messing around. I literally just thought, ‘This is fun, let me see what I can do.’ ”
He sent a basic illustration to Long, who was in Dallas working on the final 2016 rankings for the College Football Playoff as part of his role on the selection committee.
Long immediately fell in love with the idea, and the concept was brought to Jake Nevill, a graphic designer who works with the football program. Nevill refined the Razorbacks-to-Cowboys look, and things took off from there.
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The idea then went head coach Bret Bielema, who approved. Trent Daniel, another graphic designer at the school, touched up the concept before it was presented to Nike. The final hurdle was a presentation to the Jones family last spring. With the family’s endorsement, Redd’s brainchild was officially set to become a reality.
While uniforms the Hogs will wear Saturday were originally his idea, Redd insists that others who were involved are also credited. The group includes Nevill, Daniel, associate athletic director Chris Freet and equipment director Jake Rosch.
“It really was a team effort from the beginning of the idea,” Redd said. “So many people took it and tweaked it to make it what it’ll be Saturday. It is really cool because I grew up in Arkansas, and I am a Cowboys fan. Being able to say I had at least a little bit of a part in this, it makes me feel good.”
“Coming to the University of Arkansas was a no-doubter,” Redd said. “I remember coming up to games when I was little and being so cold that I’d get underneath the bleacher seat and wrap in a blanket. I remember tearing down the goalpost when we beat Tennessee to kick off stadium construction at that time, and now I’m seeing it come full circle — literally full circle, with the new addition and renovation that we’re doing now.”
Redd is just under three months away from completing law school at Arkansas, where he already holds a Bachelor’s degree in finance and Master’s in education with a focus on sports management.
When law school comes to an end, so will his role in the athletic department, and he will shift his focus to studying for the bar exam. He’s not sure what comes after that. It could be opening a private practice or pursuing a venture in the sports world.
Wherever Redd ends up, he will never forget his roots He’s an Arkansan and a Razorback through and through. Other than spending five weeks in Oxnard, Calif., as an intern for the Cowboys one summer during training camp, Redd has spent his entire life in the Natural State.
“I love Arkansas,” Redd said. “It’s pretty much all I’ve ever known. I just love it. It’s home. It’s what I’m passionate about and I’m obviously very, very thankful for the opportunities that being here has given me.”