Something, something, has become a burr under the saddle of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones when it comes to Roger Goodell and his future as the NFL commissioner. Mostly likely, that burr is the six-game suspension Goodell handed to Jones’s prized running back, Ezekiel Elliott.
Jones has been on a rampage of late, threatening to sue the league, and drawing a warning from his fellow owners about conduct detrimental to the league. His actions seem particularly ironic, given a report over the weekend about the advice Jones gave a fellow owner when his biggest star was about to be suspended. Jonathan Kraft, the president of the New England Patriots and son of owner Robert Kraft, said that Jones advised his father to drop the protest over the four-game suspension given to Tom Brady because of Deflategate.
Jones’s opposition has been so strident that there have been reports that Jones could be stripped of ownership of the league’s most valuable team. Jonathan Kraft stopped short of commenting on that, but told a revealing story on Jones.
“Here’s how I think I would answer all that,” Kraft told the Patriots Radio Network (via WEEI). “Clearly, around Roger’s contract there have been threats of litigation that I have already spent too much of my life in depositions. I want to try and minimize that going forward. I am not going to comment on that process, but what I would say is Jerry, back when our fan base and ourselves were going through the whole air pressure thing, Jerry had gone through the salary cap stuff, and he said basically, ‘I think y’all should take your medicine and just focus on winning football games.’”
Kraft was referring to the Cowboys being docked $10 million in salary cap space in 2012 and 2013 as punishment for how they structured players’ contracts during the NFL’s 2010 season without a salary cap. (The Washington Redskins were similarly punished.) The Krafts were indeed furious as Deflategate dominated 2015 headlines and Robert Kraft scathingly said, “I was wrong to put my faith in the league,” adding, “I have come to the conclusion this was never about doing what was fair and just.” Patriots fans were irate, and Goodell didn’t return to Gillette Stadium until this year.
“[W]hen you’re upset and you’re angry it’s not what you want to hear because I don’t think Tom was treated fairly,” Kraft said. “I don’t think any of our fans feel Tom was treated fairly, but we ended up taking that advice and we ended up winning the Super Bowl. I think it was good advice. I think that is probably the way I will answer that.”
The Patriots also lost a 2016 first-round draft pick and were fined $1 million over Deflategate and, although Robert Kraft vocalized his anger, he also said, “At no time should the agenda of one team outweigh the collective good of the full 32″ when the team dropped its appeal in May 2015. Brady and the players’ union fought on until he served the suspension at the start of the 2016 season.
Jones apparently is not ready to give up the fight and is willing to fight a contract extension for Goodell no matter how petty the squabble may look. “To sum it all up, what I want of all is I want accountability, more accountability,” he said Sunday after the Cowboys fell to 5-5 with a loss to the Eagles at AT&T Stadium. “I want unprecedented accountability to the ownership. That simple.”
It may not work out as he hopes because over the weekend, The Post’s Mark Maske reported that there was growing sentiment among the owners that the league should take disciplinary action, stopping short of trying to strip him of the franchise. Possible discipline could include a fine, suspension or the loss of a draft pick or picks. Although it is unclear just how many owners favor taking action, the group includes some of the NFL’s most influential owners.
He contends that it’s about Goodell’s power and not Elliott’s suspension as he seeks to have all 32 owners rather than a compensation committee vote on the contract extension. “It’s unfortunate that motives are being pressed: ‘It’s all about Zeke. It’s all about that,’ which questions your motive, but Zeke is done. Zeke is over,” Jones said. “But some of the things that make that happen are still around.”
That comment stands in contrast to a recent story in which Jones reportedly was so upset with Goodell that he said he was “gonna come after you with everything I have.” And he took a shot at Robert Kraft along the way. “If you think Bob Kraft came after you hard, Bob Kraft is a p—y compared to what I’m going to do.”
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