Turns out, the self-proclaimed “biggest BYU fan in Atlanta” didn’t even start out as a BYU fan.

Back in the 1970s and ’80s, Brett Jewkes grew up in North Logan, Utah, as a diehard Utah State Aggie. 

“I was a small-town kid in a great college town and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. I’ve loved my career in New York and Chicago and Atlanta, these big cities. But they’ll never take the Cache Valley out of me, that’s for sure.” — Brett Jewkes

As part of what he describes as an “idyllic” childhood, Jewkes spent weekdays playing whatever sport was in season and Saturdays attending every Aggies football game at Romney Stadium. 

When he listened to Craig Hislop call USU games on the radio, Jewkes wondered how he could get a job like that. After serving a Latter-day Saint mission to New York City, he enrolled at BYU, where he interned for four years in the school’s sports information office. 

Jewkes saw firsthand the deluge of media descend on BYU in the fall of 1990, when quarterback Ty Detmer won the Heisman Trophy

After that, his journey in the communications business took him to disparate locales like Cedar City, New York City, Charlotte, Chicago and, now Atlanta. Along the way, he worked with NASCAR, the PGA Tour and many global brands. 

These days, Jewkes is the executive vice president and chief brand and communications officer of the Blank Family of Businesses and Arthur M. Blank Sports and Entertainment, the parent company of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.

But that doesn’t really explain Jewkes’ job. He does a little bit of everything in protecting and building the Blank brands, including the Falcons; Atlanta United FC of MLS; Mercedes-Benz Stadium; PGA Tour Superstore; Mountain Sky Guest Ranch; West Creek Ranch; Paradise Valley Ranch; The Ranch at Dome Mountain; and the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation.

Among many things, Jewkes helped Atlanta’s effort to host the Super Bowl in February 2019. 

As part of his role, Jewkes works closely with the communications, community relations, marketing, digital, creative design teams across the portfolio. And he works closely with Blank, the co-founder of the Home Depot, and the leaders of his multibillion-dollar business and philanthropic empire. 

Jewkes hasn’t forgotten his North Logan roots.

“I was a small-town kid in a great college town and I wouldn’t trade that for anything,” he said. “I’ve loved my career in New York and Chicago and Atlanta, these big cities. But they’ll never take the Cache Valley out of me, that’s for sure.”

And the lessons he learned at BYU have remained with him as well.  

“One thing that was seared into me at BYU was how fun it is to be around the games and athletes and be in a competitive atmosphere,” he recalled.

“I wasn’t on the field but you feel a part of it when you’re adjacent to it. That hasn’t changed to this day. I’m so excited about the Falcons’ training camp starting (in late July). I’ll always love game day. That hasn’t changed. If it ever does, it’ll be time to go do something else. So far, that hasn’t happened and I don’t think it ever will.”

A front-row seat to Ty Detmer’s Heisman Trophy season

Jewkes fondly remembers playing Nerf football at Logan’s Lundstrom Park, playing baseball in the vacant lot and wearing out the North Logan 3rd Ward gym playing basketball. 

During football season, he’d trudge up the hill to the stadium and sit on the concrete steps to watch USU play. His parents, Garth and Carol, are in their mid-80s and still have tickets to Aggies games.

“I think Dad’s a 64-year ticket holder. He’s Mr. Aggie,” Jewkes said. “His world goes up and down with Utah State football and basketball and the Jazz. I think he’s finally forgiven me for going to BYU.”

Jewkes still has an affinity for the Aggies but he regards himself as the biggest BYU fan in Atlanta. 

Yet he chose his career path largely because of Hislop, who served as the sports information director and radio voice of USU for years. 

“I remember listening to Craig on the radio and thinking, ‘That guy’s got the coolest job in the world. I’ve got to find out more about him.’ I had the painful realization that most of us have that we’re not going to make it on the court or on the field,” Jewkes said. “But that’s the next best thing.

“Whatever Craig was doing with the Aggies was mesmerizing to me when I was young. That’s what I wanted to do. So, what happened in Cache Valley really set my course. It all points back to that.”

Following his mission to New York City, Jewkes enrolled at BYU. Former sports information director Ralph Zobell hired him as a student intern. Jewkes spent four years in that role, even working a month after he graduated for nothing.  

“I’ll always be grateful to Ralph for giving me a chance,” Jewkes said. “I volunteered for everything. It was an incredible experience.”

One day, venerable announcer Brent Musburger was in town for a BYU broadcast and Jewkes was asked to shuttle him from the Smith Fieldhouse parking lot to the administration building on upper campus.

So Jewkes opened the door and let Musburger inside his 1988 Chevy Beretta.

“I’m still nervous thinking about it,” he recalled, laughing. “I was just a wide-eyed kid from Cache Valley and this guy that I’d seen on TV for years and years and years was in my car. … What a great experience and a bit surreal.”

Jewkes was working in the sports information office during Detmer’s Heisman season, which kicked off with the Cougars’ memorable upset of No. 1 Miami in Provo

When the topic of the what’s-the-greatest-game-you’ve-been-to surfaces, like it does often in the Falcons’ offices, Jewkes still unabashedly talks about that Miami game. At the end of the game, when the crowd rushed the field to revel in that epic victory, Jewkes was standing in a corner of the south end zone. 

“I tell people all the time how electric that was,” he said. “I only need two or three fingers to count things that have been more thrilling than that.”

Also while attending BYU, Jewkes worked with BYU golf coach Bruce Brockbank and helped with the Cougar Classic golf tournament that featured future superstar Tiger Woods one year. He still cherishes the memory of legendary BYU coach LaVell Edwards’ kindness toward him. 

“He always called me by first name. Coach Edwards had no reason to do that; I was just a part-time little intern. It’s kind of like the first time (NASCAR legend) Richard Petty called me by name (years later) — it didn’t seem real. I’ll always appreciate coach Edwards. He’s my favorite coach of all time, in any sport.”

Former BYU athletic director Val Hale worked in the sports information office at that time. Hale and Zobell were among those that were instrumental in putting together Detmer’s successful Heisman Trophy campaign. Jewkes was just along for the ride. 

One of his fondest memories is the night when a Heisman Trophy replica was sitting in the SID office at 30 Smith Fieldhouse and Jewkes took dozens of pictures with the trophy, long before selfies were a thing, with the help of a Kodak disposable camera. 

“I have those photos somewhere in a folder in my basement. That whole experience was incredible,” Jewkes said. “I probably didn’t appreciate it at the time as much as I do now. I was a student intern so I was watching most of it, just supporting Ralph and Val however I could.

“To be around it and the type of media that was rolling through all year long, not just on game day but to come and do features and other things, especially when the voting was being done. How many times has the Heisman gone to BYU? One. It was a magical time.”

From BYU to Southern Utah

After graduating in public relations at BYU, Jewkes left his comfort zone and found his first job at Southern Utah University as the sports information director.

He wasn’t at LaVell Edwards Stadium anymore. 

At SUU’s stadium at the time, the bleachers were metal. He had to clear out the pigeons and mice from the press box before the season started. 

He sold signage for the scoreboard, hung banners before games, went door-to-door selling advertisements for the game programs. He also wrote and put together the media guide. He was doing everything.

And Jewkes enjoyed every moment of it. 

“I’ll never have a job that I loved more than that one because there were minimal resources and you had to be very creative,” he recalled. “I loved being stretched and counted on. I had never sold a thing in my life. But if I didn’t sell, there wouldn’t be game programs.

“There was a small, lean staff at the time. It was such an immersive experience. You were so depended upon by the athletic department and the coaches. Fresh out of BYU, I had been exposed to a lot. But all the sudden, I was the guy on several sports, including men’s basketball. If I didn’t do it, it wasn’t getting done.”

His wife, Melissa, worked on campus, starting up the ballroom dance program. The Jewkes spent four years in that position, from 1994 to 1998. 

That experience taught Jewkes a lot of valuable lessons and an enduring appreciation for the underdog.  

Making it there — in New York City

Jewkes himself was feeling like an underdog in his profession in Cedar City and needed a new challenge. 

When he was serving his mission, he fell in love with New York City and its diversity. While working at SUU, Jewkes took his wife on a vacation to the Big Apple and they discussed the future. 

What if he took a communications job in New York? 

“I always had this notion when I left my mission that I wanted to go back and see if I could ‘make it there,’ not to quote the song,” Jewkes said. “Just to see if I could make it in the deepest talent pool, especially in our discipline, that exists. Melissa is an adventurous spirit anyway. She has a lot of courage. I was scared to death because we didn’t know if we could afford to live there and start a family.”

After Memorial Day weekend in 1998, the Jewkes returned to New York alone to knock doors in hopes of landing job interviews. He came home with four offers, though they weren’t paying much more than what he was making at SUU, which wasn’t much but it didn’t matter. 

Three months later, Brett and Melissa were living in a small apartment in New Jersey with Brett working in the communications business in Manhattan. 

A year later, he took a job at esteemed Alan Taylor Communications. Taylor, who founded the agency, famously was the publicist for legendary boxer and icon Cassius Clay — before he became Muhammad Ali. 

At Taylor, Jewkes worked with Major League Baseball and businesses like Purina, Gillette and Mastercard. 

“They were the top sports agency at the time so that’s where I wanted to be,” he said. “I had great client success pretty early on and I did a lot of different things in and out of sports, including product launches and that created opportunities to do more.”

While working in New York City, Jewkes served as the Latter-day Saint branch president in Paterson, New Jersey, and it was there that they adopted their two sons, Stockton and Mason. 

Eventually, Jewkes became an equity partner in the agency. But he wanted to run something on his own. And he got his chance. 

Charlotte, Chicago and NASCAR 

The partners at Taylor were looking to expand for the first time beyond New York and sought someone to open an office in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

Jewkes eagerly volunteered. 

In Charlotte, he continued serving NASCAR, which had become a client during his time in New York, but the business grew exponentially with other NASCAR projects and with NASCAR sponsors. It was there where his daughter Mallory, now 17, was born. 

“The day Dale Earnhart died was my first NASCAR race,” Jewkes remembered. “We had started working with the sanctioning body a few months earlier. I’ll never forget that day for obvious reasons, but for me it also kicked off nearly 16 years working in a sport, and with a lot of people, I’ll always cherish.”

After four years overseeing tremendous business growth in Charlotte, he was sent to Chicago to open Taylor’s third office. He spent three years there before returning to Charlotte to work with the management team at NASCAR. 

Brett Jewkes, left, and NFL and NASCAR legend Joe Gibbs. | Courtesy NASCAR

“Being on the leadership team for the sport was a priceless experience,” Jewkes said. “The France Family was good to me and I learned so much about leading a big team.”

One day early in his NASCAR tenure, he found himself sitting at a table with some of the biggest names in racing — Roger Penske, Joe Gibbs, Rick Hendrick and Chip Ganassi. 

“What am I doing at this table?” Jewkes thought.

Jewkes and his family were thriving with NASCAR. He loved the business of racing. They figured Charlotte would be their final stop. 

“(The NASCAR ecosystem is) so complicated and complex from a business and competition perspective and just exhilarating in both spheres. I will always love my time in NASCAR as a period of significant growth,” he said.

But Jewkes’ career was about to take another detour. 

A life-changing meeting with Arthur Blank

While vacationing in Dollywood in Tennessee with his family just before the start of another school year for the kids, Jewkes received an unexpected email from a recruiter, saying that Arthur Blank wanted to talk to him.

Jewkes wasn’t looking for a new job and didn’t have any appetite for another move. But after some cajoling, he agreed to meet with Blank and his leadership team after his vacation. 

At the time, AMBSE was building a new, state-of-the-art venue, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, in Atlanta. It had acquired rights to an MLS franchise and was poised to expand its golf business. It was also overseeing operations of the Atlanta Falcons, which were in the midst of a competitive run.

Brett Jewkes dines with former BYU running back Tyler Allgeier during the Atlanta Falcons Rookie Club Dinner at The Capital Grille in Atlanta, Georgia, on Wednesday, May 25, 2022. | Shanna Lockwood, Atlanta Falcons

“There was this magical soup of ingredients that was coming together. After I sat on it for a couple of days, I thought, I love the NFL,” Jewkes said. “I’ve never opened a stadium. I’ve never been part of a franchise launch. I had never done retail directly. I’ll think about this.”

Jewkes first met with Rich McKay, chairman of the NFL competition committee and the CEO of the Falcons, whom he reports to now. 

“I vividly remember how excited he was about what was happening in Atlanta,” Jewkes said. “When he talked about Arthur, it was with almost reverence. That was really unique and genuine and it stuck with me.”

For his meeting with Blank, Jewkes pulled into the Falcons’ facility at Flowery Branch. Then he rode with Blank, in his Mercedes Sprinter, to his house in Atlanta. 

“I thought it was an interesting place for an interview,” Jewkes recalled.

The two talked for hours in Blank’s driveway. 

“We were so connected from that first chat,” Jewkes said. “He never mentioned the words revenue, profit, balance sheet, growth or or any business buzzwords. It was all about core values. It seemed that’s all he cared about. Once I started, it took me 11 months to hear him say the word ‘profit.’

“That was so rare to me, compared to the businesses I’d been in before. With Arthur, it’s always about, how do we do the right thing? How do we take care of the customer? How do we add value to the experience? If we do that, business results will come.”

That was the model that Blank followed, which led to the Home Depot’s success. 

“I was just awestruck in that interview,” Jewkes said. “Sitting with the co-founder of the Home Depot and owner of these teams, who’s building a stadium and a soccer franchise and a golf business and giving away a lot of money with real intent to help people, just blew me away.”

A security guy drove Jewkes back to his truck at Flowery Branch. Before heading back to Charlotte, Jewkes called his wife.

Melissa Jewkes, left, and Brett Jewkes, right, pose with Arthur Blank. | Courtesy Brett Jewkes

“If we get a shot at this, I think we have to do it,” he said. “She was like, ‘What?’ She has an adventurous spirit and has a great ability to love people wherever she goes and she knows better than anyone when my fire is lit, and Arthur lit me up that day.” 

The next day, Jewkes received a job offer. He started working for the Blank Family of Businesses Nov. 25, 2015. 

His first meeting in his new job? Blank paired Jewkes up with McKay to work with the Atlanta Sports Council on Atlanta’s bid for the 2019 Super Bowl, which the city eventually secured. 

“In my first hour working in Atlanta, I was helping develop a Super Bowl bid, which was amazing,” he said. “And this role has been one incredible opportunity after another ever since.”

Jewkes works closely with Blank and feels a close kinship with him. He convinced him to write his autobiography, “Good Company.” 

For Jewkes, it was a “dream project.”

In the acknowledgments of the book, Blank wrote, “Brett Jewkes was the earliest champion of this project, believing its message would be important now and in generations to come.”

“I had to get that content on paper for his legacy but also for its potential impact. I’ve spent a lot of time with him the last eight years and it’s like getting a free MBA every month,” Jewkes said. “He’s 100% values driven. He wants to do the right thing.

“My job is to build and protect our brands. There’s never a question whether you’re going to do the right thing. It’s just what Arthur does. It’s been an incredible experience to be of counsel to him and help extend his legacy with ‘Good Company’ and be a part of his philanthropy work. And at this stage of my career, the purpose work matters to me even more than the sports stuff and the sports stuff matters a whole lot.”

‘Amazing experiences’

In August, Jewkes will begin his fifth year teaching early-morning seminary, which he regards as “the best calling in the church.”

He’s also a Bruce Springsteen super fan, having watched his Broadway show five times. Jewkes has also seen him in concert in Atlanta, Denver and Milan, Italy. In July, he’s going to watch The Boss perform at Olympic Stadium in Munich, Germany, while on a family vacation. He’s taking some friends to their first show in Montreal in November. 

“Melissa thinks it’s a disease and she might be right,” Jewkes said, laughing. “It’s past fanatical.”

During his professional career, Jewkes has had what he calls “a kid’s dream experiences.”

He was on the field at Fenway Park when the All-Century Team was recognized in 1999. He was at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in 2000 when Tiger Woods won by 15 strokes. He’s attended numerous Super Bowls. 

Meanwhile, “I also kind of proved to myself that I could swim in that deep talent pool and hold my own with big-time clients and athletes and others,” he said.

Jewkes is proud of those people in the communications business that he’s been able to mentor, and it’s gratifying for him that they still call him for his perspective, or advice, professional and personal. 

His daughter Mallory, who’s in high school, is eyeing BYU in hopes of becoming an athletic trainer. His oldest son attends Utah State and his middle son just finished his freshman year at Kennesaw State. 

And, of course, he’s enjoyed working with people like Arthur Blank. 

“To be a part of his philanthropy and doing our part to heal the world and lift the people that don’t have the advantages that we do really fits my values and my faith. I pinch myself sometimes because it doesn’t always seem real that I’m here,” Jewkes said. “It was really cool to open what I think is still the best stadium in America and to launch a soccer franchise out of nothing and win a championship in our second year and our golf business, someday people will write books about that as a phenomenal success.

“And I’m so proud of our beautiful ranch properties in Montana that Arthur is putting under conservation easements to protect and preserve some of the most pristine parts of the country where my roots are. It’s an inspiring thing that I get to be a small part of and I’m so grateful.”

It’s been quite a remarkable career for the kid from North Logan, the self-proclaimed “biggest BYU fan,” in Atlanta.

Atlanta Falcons SVP chief communications officer Brett Jewkes poses for a portrait in Flowery Branch, Georgia, on Wednesday, October 26, 2022. | Shanna Lockwood, Atlanta Falcons