Some NFL owners are urging league leaders to consider penalties against Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones if he continues his attempts to block the completion of Commissioner Roger Goodell’s contract extension, according to two people with knowledge of the deliberations.
If Jones is deemed guilty of conduct detrimental to the league, potential penalties include a fine, loss of a draft pick or picks for the Cowboys or a suspension, according to those people, who spoke under the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic.
Jones has been working against the owners’ compensation committee’s work to apply the finishing touches to a five-year contract extension with Goodell running through 2024.
Jones worked for a time with the committee as an unofficial, non-voting member. That ended around the time he told committee members earlier this month that he had hired attorney David Boies and threatened to file a lawsuit if Goodell’s extension is completed, according to people familiar with the committee’s deliberations.
Some owners believe Jones is throwing what amounts to a temper tantrum over the NFL’s six-game suspension of Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott under the personal conduct policy. Elliott began serving the suspension Sunday as the Cowboys lost in Atlanta to fall to 5-4.
Jones and his associates say the issues are not related. They say Jones is attempting to speak for owners not on the six-member compensation committee and stick to his long-held beliefs that Goodell’s compensation should be tied to incentives in his contract related to the economic well-being of the league and its teams, and that all owners should have a say in the terms of the deal.
Jones, through a letter written by the Cowboys’ counsel, also has said he believes Falcons owner Arthur Blank, chairman of the compensation committee, misled other owners about the negotiations with Goodell. A reply letter written by an NFL attorney denied that.
It is not clear whether Jones would follow through on his threat of litigation. Nor is it clear whether the league or other owners would take the step of actually punishing Jones. Potential punishment could come from Goodell or owners on the league’s executive committee.
Profootballtalk.com reported Sunday night that the league and owners could attempt to force Jones to sell the franchise. Those who spoke Monday about the topic stopped short of making that threat, even while adding there could be a variety of options.
In the minds of some owners, those people said, any punishment of Jones could be tied to any influence he might have had on Papa John’s founder John Schnatter, who publicly criticized the NFL for a lack of leadership related to the protests by players during the national anthem before games.
According to people familiar with the work of the compensation committee, it intends to complete its extension with Goodell. Committee members spoke Monday via conference call, and Blank issued a written statement afterward.
“The Committee is continuing its work towards finalizing a contract extension with the Commissioner, consistent with the mandate provided in the unanimous May 2017 Resolution,” Blank said. “Regardless of what may have been reported, the Committee is working within the financial parameters outlined to the ownership at the May meeting. 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.”
Owners voted, 32-0, at their May meeting in Chicago to authorize the compensation committee to negotiate an extension with Goodell.
The league has said that no further vote of the owners is needed for the extension to take effect once Goodell and the compensation committee agree to it. Jones has contended that, under the NFL’s constitution, owners must take another vote to ratify the deal.
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