Sports NFL owners appear to be heading for a war among themselves

  • Published:

Jerry Jones reportedly told owners that legal papers would be served if they did not halt negotiations on a contract extension for Roger Goodell.

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jerry jones

(Jack Dempsey/AP)

  • The New York Times on Wednesday cited three people as saying Jerry Jones had hired a lawyer and threatened to sue the NFL and some team owners to stop contract-extension negotiations for the league's commissioner, Roger Goodell.
  • Jones is reportedly upset over the pending six-game suspension for Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and with league leadership over matters like protests during the national anthem.
  • The move could set up a war between owners, with some backing Jones and others supporting Goodell.


Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has hired a powerful lawyer and threatened to sue the NFL and some fellow team owners to block the contract extension of the league's commissioner, Roger Goodell, according to The New York Times' Ken Belson, who cited three anonymous sources.

The moves reportedly stemmed from Jones' anger over Ezekiel Elliott's pending six-game suspension over domestic-violence allegations and disappointment with league leadership over matters like players' protests during the national anthem.

According to Belson, Jones informed six owners of his hiring of David Boies, a high-profile lawyer who this week caught flak for his ties to the Harvey Weinstein sexual-harassment case.

Jones reportedly told the six owners who make up the NFL's compensation committee on a conference call that legal papers would be served if the committee did not halt talks on a contract extension for Goodell.

ESPN's Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen reported in October that the Atlanta Falcons' owner, Arthur Blank, the committee member they described as the "point man" for a Goodell extension, had invited Jones on as an "ad hoc committee adviser." Belson reported on Wednesday that after Jones' call, the six owners revoked Jones' status as an unofficial committee member. The owners then reportedly told the remaining 25 NFL team owners of what Jones had said.

Schefter and Mortensen had also reported in October that Jones was the leading voice of a group of owners who wanted to delay Goodell's contract extension. ESPN reported as far back as September that Jones was delaying contract-extension negotiations, with one source then telling ESPN that negotiations would be done if not for Jones. ESPN reported that some felt Jones was not trying to oust Goodell as much as decrease his annual salary and his contract incentives.

It's unclear where the situation could go from here, but it could set up a war between NFL owners. As Belson noted, Jones is potentially taking on the league, Goodell, and fellow owners. Jones is considered one of the most powerful and influential owners in the league.

It's been reported that Goodell has the support of some owners who believe he has done a good job as commissioner at taking hits to the league. While ESPN reported that multiple owners had expressed frustration that the league had not mandated that players stand for the national anthem, some also felt the talks between the league and the players were beneficial.

Last season, Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback then playing with the 49ers, began kneeling during the national anthem before games to protest police killings of unarmed black men in the US. He is without a team this season, but a few players continued to kneel before games; the protest was then magnified in September when President Donald Trump began criticizing it.

Jones has been one of the most active voices in the NFL in calling for players to stand for the anthem.

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