There is strong and increasing sentiment among NFL owners that league leaders should take disciplinary action against Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, although that would not include attempting to strip Jones of his franchise, according to multiple people familiar with the deliberations.
Potential disciplinary measures against Jones, if he’s deemed guilty of conduct detrimental to the league, could include a fine, a suspension or the Cowboys’ loss of a draft pick or picks.
It is not clear how many owners favor taking action against Jones, but the group that supports such a move is said to include some of the league’s most influential owners, according to those with knowledge of the situation, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the threat of litigation.
Jones is attempting to block completion of negotiations between the owners’ compensation committee and Roger Goodell of a five-year contract extension that would keep Goodell in place as commissioner through 2024. Jones told members of the compensation committee that he had hired attorney David Boies and was prepared to file a lawsuit against Goodell’s extension.
“Roger will be extended, and Jerry will be dealt with,” said one of those people familiar with the owners’ sentiments.
Asked which measure the pro-discipline owners favor taking against Jones, the person said: “It depends on how far he goes.”
It is not realistic, however, for league leaders to try to force Jones to sell the Cowboys, that person said. The Cowboys are estimated by Forbes to be worth more than $4 billion.
That person’s account of strong and growing sentiment among the owners for sanctions against Jones was confirmed by three other people familiar with the league’s inner workings, who said many owners are upset that Jones took his opposition to Goodell’s contract extension public and believe Jones’s actions are tied solely to his anger over the NFL’s six-game suspension of Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott under the personal conduct policy.
The owner of one team said earlier this week that the notion of trying to strip the Cowboys from Jones is “ridiculous” but added that Jones could be fined if he files a lawsuit, in addition to being held responsible for attorney fees for both sides, under league rules. Any discipline against Jones would be considered by Goodell and the owners’ management council executive committee.
The NFL, in a letter from an outside attorney for the league to Boies, has said it considers Jones to be engaged in conduct detrimental to the league.
Jones, via a letter written by a Cowboys attorney, accused Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, the chairman of the compensation committee, of misleading owners about the negotiations with Goodell.
There also have been reports that suspicion by some owners of Jones’s possible influence over the recent comments by pizza chain Papa John’s, an NFL sponsor, criticizing the league for a lack of leadership in dealing with player protests during the national anthem could tie into finding Jones guilty of conduct detrimental to the league. Jones reportedly owns more than 100 Papa John’s franchises. Papa John’s has since apologized for being divisive in its original comments.
Jones has said he has the league’s best interests at heart and that his efforts with regard to Goodell’s contract are not related to Elliott’s suspension. He wrote to Goodell that it is not the time for the league to make such a financial commitment to Goodell, with the NFL facing a series of challenges to its popularity and prosperity.
The owners are scheduled to meet Dec. 12-13 in Dallas, and Goodell’s extension could be completed before or during that meeting. The NFL does not plan for owners to take another ratification vote, as Jones is seeking, once negotiations between the compensation committee and Goodell are complete, according to people close to the situation. The owners voted, 32-0, in May to authorize the committee to negotiate the deal with Goodell.
The compensation committee also rejected Jones’s request that a special owners’ meeting be scheduled for Nov. 28 in New York.
Read more on the NFL: