Dallas Cowboys

Jerry Jones takes issue with power of commissioner’s position, not Roger Goodell

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to get a contract extension soon, but it will not come without controversy.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to get a contract extension soon, but it will not come without controversy. AP

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones doesn’t deny being at war with some NFL owners, particularly Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, over a planned contract extension for commissioner Roger Goodell.

But Jones said Friday on his radio show on 105.3 The Fan that his issue is not necessarily with Goodell, but the power of the commissioner.

Jones has threatened to sue the NFL and some owners if the six-man compensation, chaired by Blank, approves the extension without putting it to a vote of all of the owners. It makes for some added pre-game intrigue for Sunday’s match-up between the Cowboys and Falcons.

“This is such an important matter in light of a lot of the things that are going on in the NFL right now,” Jones said. “I basically feel this extension of Roger should go and be reviewed and approved by all the owners, not just a few of the owners. The committee that basically negotiates the salary with our commissioner is taking the view, especially the chairman, that they, in a limited group, can complete this agreement. I disagree. This is simply about making sure that all clubs have input into not only the commissioner, his extension, but also in future years, his decisions. We all see how impactful a commissioner’s decision can be in many areas. We’ve given him a lot of power.

“To a large degree, it’s not about Roger Goodell. It’s about the power of the commissioner as it relates to ownership. To the extent that the ownership hires him, extends him, pays him on an ongoing basis, the ownership should have first-hand approval, each owner should approve that.”

And while Jones understands that he was one of 32 owners who unanimously authorized the compensation committee to work on and approve a contract extension for Goodell, he says adverse things have come up in the NFL, including the anthem issue and behavior policies, prompting owners to want to revisit the decision.

“I think just since the period of time that we first addressed extending Roger, I think we’ve had several material adverse conditions happen,” Jones said. “We should basically honor those conditions, such things as the anthem, such things as behavioral policies. All of those things, since we’ve had this plan in place, have occurred. It’s a well-known, an accepted principle that in a negotiation if you have material consequences occur that you revisit the situation. Certainly, we’ve got things that we need to discuss that weren’t on the table last spring.”

Chief among the behavior issues that have happened since last spring is Goodell’s decision to suspend Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott for six games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy, based on allegations of domestic violence by a former girlfriend, Tiffany Thompson.

Elliott was never arrested or charged in the case. And Jones not only believes he should not have been disciplined but also believes he was misled by Goodell into thinking there were be no suspension for Elliott, per a source.

Jones’s problem with Goodell is not about the Elliott discipline, but the policies given to the commissioner that impacted Elliott who, after series of legal fights with NFL in federal court, will officially begin his six-game suspension Sunday in Atlanta.

“I’m disappointed when he’s not going to play,” Jones said. “It is what it is. That’s not being resolute. It’s just simply, it’s what it is. I really fervently disagree that we shouldn’t have him on the playing field. But a lot of people are trying to tie it in frankly with the issue regarding my stance as to the chairman and renewing the commissioner. That’s really not right.

“The facts are the issues that involve the commissioner are far more reaching. The policy that we have that has impacted Zeke is more of my issue with the commissioner, more so that Zeke’s particular circumstance.”

Clarence Hill: 817-390-7760, @clarencehilljr