Jerry Jones has two words for the possibility that his fellow NFL owners might exercise the so-called nuclear option to oust him as owner of the Dallas Cowboys. The idea, which grew from his staunch opposition to Commissioner Roger Goodell’s contract extension and ripped the cover off the usually private relationships between the league’s billionaire owners, is, he said, “laughable” and “ridiculous.”
“I’ve had not one inkling of communication from the league office or any owner that would suggest something that laughable, ridiculous, and that’s about where that is,” Jones said in his weekly Dallas radio appearance.
The battle among owners has devolved into posturing and, let’s face it, few people posture better than the Cowboys’ owner, whom some believe started the whole owners’ spat over Goodell’s contract because the commissioner suspended his prized running back, Ezekiel Elliott, for six games.
Whatever the root cause, Jones has drawn a battle line over Goodell’s extension, which will be determined by a compensation committee of owners that was selected by the Atlanta Falcons’ Arthur Blank and does not include Jones, who tried to intrude on the process as an unofficial, nonvoting member. Since then, he has, in a letter written by the Cowboys’ counsel, said he believes Blank misled other owners about negotiations, an accusation denied by an NFL lawyer. Jones has gone as far as to tell committee members that he hired attorney David Boies and threatened a lawsuit if Goodell’s extension were completed.
That led some NFL owners, The Post’s Mark Maske reported, to urge NFL leaders to consider punishment for Jones if he doesn’t stop. Penalties, if he is deemed guilty of conduct detrimental to the league, could include a fine, loss of a draft pick or picks or a suspension, sources told Maske. On Monday, the New York Times reported that the owners on the compensation committee had given Jones a cease-and-desist warning over his efforts to block the extension.
“The committee is continuing its work towards finalizing a contract extension with the commissioner,” Blank said in a statement. “The negotiations are progressing and we will keep ownership apprised of the negotiations as they move forward. We do not intend to publicly comment on our discussions.”
In his radio interview Tuesday, Jones had tempered his tone, if not his stance. “Roger has almost 18 months left [until his contract expires]. We’ve got all the time in the world to evaluate what we’re doing, and all the time in the world to extend him. We just need to slow this train down and discuss the issues at hand in the NFL.”
Jones, ranked by Forbes as the league’s fifth-richest owner with the league’s most valuable team, isn’t likely to pipe down any time soon and many believe that he pushed Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter to rip NFL leadership over its handling of NFL national anthem demonstrations. “This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago,” Schnatter said, blaming sagging sales on the issue. “Like many sponsors, we are in contact with the NFL and once the issue is resolved between the players and the owners, we are optimistic that the NFL’s best years are ahead. But good or bad, leadership starts at the top, and this is an example of poor leadership.” Jones happens to own 120 Papa John’s franchises.
“I speak to a lot of owners,” Jones said Tuesday, “and I know them to be really supportive of the idea of being able to, on their part, see what and guide and give input to the committee, in particular the chairman and I have well over half this league that is very interested, not only being a part of what is negotiated, but having it come back to them for approval.”
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