SBD/March 16, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Lockout Watch, Day 5: Cowboys Deny SI Report Of Jones Walk Out

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SI reported Jones stood up, threatened to leave March 2 CBA talks
The Cowboys denied that Owner Jerry Jones walked out of a critical collective bargaining session earlier this month. Sports Illustrated reported yesterday a key moment in the break down of the talks was when Jones tried to stage a walkout. “It wasn't as dramatic as Trotter made it sound and Jerry never left the room as some might infer,” Cowboys VP/PR & Communications Rich Dalrymple said in an e-mail, referring to the SI reporter Jim Trotter. “A lot to do about a little.” Dalrymple said Trotter did not call the Cowboys for comment on the story. Trotter said he e-mailed the league for comment but did not hear back. Trotter’s report states that at a March 2 bargaining session, Jones said he needed to get the players' attention, banged his knuckles together and stood up to leave, and began to leave, apparently hoping the other owners would follow. The story does not specifically say he left, though that inference has been widely reported. Trotter said he should have made clear that Jones did not leave, and instead, according to Trotter’s sources, the Cowboys owner stood in the corner of the room for 30 minutes. Dalrymple, who said Jones would not speak about the incident, said of the report in another e-mail, “Just one side of a closed door meeting from a guy who wasn't in the meeting. Jerry's not going to get into it. Knuckles or no knuckles.” Trotter said the story was based on four sources in the room. The NFLPA did not return a query for comment on the incident. After the March 2 incident, the sides ultimately agreed to two extensions of the CBA expiration deadline. However, a third extension could not be reached and the union decertified and the league locked out the players (Daniel Kaplan, SportsBusiness Journal).

THE ORIGINAL REPORT: SI's Trotter in the original report notes on March 2, for the "first time in 13 meetings" with Cohen, the 10 owners on the NFL's labor committee were "sitting across the negotiating table from the players on the union's executive committee." Several players in that meeting recount Jones saying, "I don't think we've got your attention. You clearly don't understand what we're saying, and we're not hearing what you're saying. So I guess we're going to have to show you to get your attention." Jones then "tapped his fists together for emphasis -- the players interpreted it as a sign that a lockout was coming -- then stood and walked toward the door." As he reached the end of the table, Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson, "another labor hawk, began to rise, but Robert Kraft of the Patriots, who was sitting next to him, put a hand on Richardson's forearm and kept him from going." Trotter notes if Jones' "intention was to intimidate the players, he failed." One player said, "I think everybody in the room thought it was overly dramatic, almost hilarious. It was like a Jerry Maguire moment. You know, 'I'm leaving. Who's coming with me?' I know it didn't scare any of us" (SI, 3/21 issue).
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