The NFL has accused Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones of “conduct detrimental to the league’s best interests” due to his actions during the recent contract negotiations with commissioner Roger Goodell.
The accusation letter was sent to David Boies, the attorney Jones hired while threatening to sue the NFL if Goodell’s contract was extended. The league compensation committee, which is ran by six team owners, has the authority to make the decision on Goodell’s extension.
Jones’s threats are thought to be in connection to the suspension of Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, who was suspended earlier this season for a domestic violence issue. Elliott and the NFLPA have been in legal battles with the NFL over the suspension all season, until Elliott dropped his appeal last week. Jones, however, insists the threats are unrelated.
Jones had been a non-voting member of the compensation committee before threatening to sue, but has since been removed from service on the committee.
Jones has expressed concern over the compensation in the negotiation along with the way the NFL has handled the national anthem protests. He also mentioned the owners needing to revisit the amount of power granted to the commissioner.
The compensation committee, chaired by Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, has added in the accusation that Jones distributed an outdated document relating to the state of negotiations with Goodell.
“Someone who is genuinely concerned ‘that the owners know the truth about the negotiations’ would not deliberately distribute such an outdated document, particularly when he has in his possession drafts that are current and accurately reflect the actual state of negotiations, or threaten to sue the league and its owners if he does not get his way,” the committee said in a statement.
Blank said in a statement the compensation committee planned to proceed with finalizing the Goodell deal and would keep other owners updated.
Jones claimed on his radio show last Tuesday that he had “well over half” of the league’s owners on his side, but there have also been reports of discussions that Jones could be removed as the Cowboys owner for his actions. This has been denied by a handful of owners or executives, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN.
The league does have rules governing conduct detrimental to the league. Under Article VIII, Section 8.13 of the league constitution, Goodell has the authority to administer penalties for such actions.
These actions are defined as “conduct detrimental to the welfare of the League or professional football.”
These penalties include fines and/or suspensions, and also forcing an owner to sell a franchise. Forced sale, however, would require the approval of the league’s executive committee, which has eight members including Jones. It would also need a three-fourths approval vote from the 32 NFL owners.
While things continue to escalate, it seems we still have not heard the last of Jerry Jones or Roger Goodell.