Patrick Creighton: Roger Goodell wants Jerry Jones’ blood, and every other owner should take note
This is the biggest rivalry in the NFL and it’s not ever playing one single down on a field.
For all intents and purposed, Roger Goodell has already won. He forced his six-game suspension on Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott even though the NFL’s own investigator recommended that no suspension was warranted. He even apparently assured Jerry Jones no such suspension was coming, and then threw the book at Elliott anyway.
Roger won a second time also, with the Compensation Committee. That committee, headed by Falcons’ owner Arthur Blank and also with Texans’ owner Bob McNair on it, pushed through a new contract for Roger 18 months before his existing one expires.
Yet that isn’t good enough for Roger Goodell; now he wants to go for the kill shot. He wants to force Jerry Jones to reimburse the league for the monies it spent on the Ezekiel Elliott lawsuit
Of course, Jerry Jones was quite vocal about his unhappiness with the Elliott suspension. The NFL’s lead investigator, the only person to interview all of the witnesses and principals, recommended that no suspension be levied, that the witness was unreliable and her story was riddled with holes. NFL special counsel Lisa Friel threw that investigator’s report in the trash and recommended to Goodell six games, and BAM! That’s what happened.
Remember, facts matter not in the NFL. Two appellate courts have now ruled the CBA gives Goodell broad powers to do as he wishes, facts and logic be damned.
Elliott’s grievances and subsequent court cases were backed by Elliott, and the NFLPA, not Jerry Jones. However, Roger wants Jerry to foot the league’s bill anyway.
Roger further wants to hit Jerry in the pocket for the league having to defend itself against Jones’ threatened lawsuit. If you are wondering how the league incurs fees for defending a lawsuit that never actually happened, so am I, and so is Jerry Jones.
You may recall that when Jerry was all hot and bothered over Goodell’s proposed new deal, the Compensation Committee made a deal with Jerry. Back on November 23, according to Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk, Jones and any owner would be allowed to speak regarding Goodell’s contract at the December 13 meeting in Irving, TX. Essentially in exchange, Jones would send a letter to Arthur Blank formally stating he was standing down on his threat to sue to block Goodell’s extension.
On Dec. 6, one week before that meeting, Goodell’s new contract was signed, as the Compensation Committee flipped Jerry off and made those proposed Dec. 13 discussions irrelevant.
Hence, the league got its deal done with Goodell, Roger got paid, Jerry got the shaft, and no lawsuit actually happened. Yet Goodell wants to force Jerry to pay up for the defense of a non-existent lawsuit.
Why is Goodell feeling so froggy? Apparently, the members of the Compensation Committee are encouraging Roger to go ahead hand Jones a bill for over $2 million.
Did Jerry finance Elliott’s grievance and lawsuit? No. Did Jerry sue the NFL? No. So why is Roger looking to hit Jerry for the costs? He believes he can, he believes he has enough backing owners and he really wants to neuter Jerry Jones for all the verbal trouble he caused last season.
Jones, of course, is contesting the bill, and rightly so. This is the part where every other owner should take a good hard look in the mirror – something they failed to do when Goodell dropped the hammer on Tom Brady, Bob Kraft & the Patriots (also without any credible evidence) – they have given Roger Goodell far more power than they should have.
As much as it is fair to point out the NFLPA negotiated poorly in allowing Roger Goodell to be judge, jury, executioner, and then appellate judge to hear the cases he has resolved – the owners have done the exact same thing.
That’s right. Jones’ challenge to Goodell’s demand for claw back will be heard by Roger Goodell. In the real world, we call that conflict of interest, but in the NFL it is called business as usual.
Goodell isn’t satisfied simply with beating Jerry Jones -- once one of the most powerful and influential owners in the league but now lacking friends -- he wants to whip him into complete submission. He reportedly has the backing of enough owners (and the entire Compensation Committee) to push through.
Keep in mind, one of the owners who is putting the screws to Jones is McNair. It’s quite ironic since when McNair found himself in hot water with the players and media over his “inmates running the prison” comment, the one and only owner who came to his defense publicly was Jerry Jones.
Right now, it looks like Jerry doesn’t have many friends among his fellow owners, many of whom he has made much richer men. Every other owner should be watching, because they could find themselves the next one to be suddenly friendless and writing very large checks.
Goodell wants blood, even though he doesn’t deserve it, and shouldn’t actually have a claim to it. He’s probably going to get it anyway.
Patrick Creighton is the host of “Nate & Creight” heard weekdays 1-3p on SportsMap 94.1 FM, and “Sports & Shenanigans” heard Sundays 12-5p Sundays on SB Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter at @pcreighton1