SBD/November 20, 2017/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones Says Changes Needed To NFL's Compensation Committee

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Jones thanked the committee for having all owners review Goodell's extension
Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones last night emphasized that he is "more excited than ever" about the owners that make up the NFL compensation committee, but added that changes "need to be made," according to Brandon George of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. Jones was removed as an ombudsman on the committee by Falcons Owner Arthur Blank -- who serves as committee Chair -- a few weeks ago after he "hired a high-powered lawyer and threatened to sue the league" over Commissioner Roger Goodell's contract extension. Asked if he feels Goodell should continue as commissioner, Jones said, "I've never addressed that in a negative way. To sum it all up, what I want of all is I want accountability, more accountability. I want unprecedented accountability to the ownership. That simple." He added, "Our commissioner is probably the most powerful, relative to his constituency, he's the most powerful person in America. He's been given that kind of power, so what you want to do if you want to make some positive changes is you want that power to be accountable, in my case, to the owners." Jones said that Goodell has "increased the transparency of the league since he's been commissioner ... but the league can do better" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 11/20). In Ft. Worth, Clarence Hill Jr. reports Jones has "no problem" with the process of extending Goodell "not being smooth or pretty on the outside." But he said that he is "doing what’s in the best interest of the Cowboys and the NFL." Jones: "Every entity that there has ever been has a time to evaluate, re-access, freshen up and do it better. I’ve never been with one that didn’t" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 11/20).

EXTENSION STILL LIKELY: ESPN.com's Adam Schefter cited sources as saying that Goodell's proposed extension "still is on track to get done despite the recent battle surrounding the negotiations, and many expect it to be completed at or before the owners' Dec. 13 meetings in Dallas." A source said that if all the bonus criteria are "achieved in the proposed new deal, Goodell's total potential compensation could average" about $40M for each year from '19-23, making it a "five-year extension worth up to" about $200M. A source said that the base salary is "in the single-digit millions." Roughly 85% of the total potential compensation package is "comprised of bonuses, which would be subject to ownership approval and validation" (ESPN.com, 11/19). ESPN's Chris Mortensen said the pending extension has been "hardly the rubber stamp contract that some in the league expected to be in place by the start of the season" ("Sunday NFL Countdown," ESPN, 11/19). THE MMQB's Peter King writes not to "expect much action" on Goodell's extension this week, "in part because" of the Thanksgiving holiday. There are regularly scheduled NFL committee meetings in N.Y. on Nov. 28-29, at which "approximately 20 owners/top club officials will gather, with others available via conference call." King: "You can bet there will be some Goodell discussion there. If Jones has a cadre of owners to challenge the Goodell contract, it would be wise for him to have them state their objections at this meeting" (SI.com, 11/20).

BY THE BOOK: In N.Y., Ken Belson reported Jones on Friday "thanked the committee for agreeing to his demand that all owners review the extension" of Goodell’s contract. In a letter to the compensation committee, Jones said that he had been "worried Goodell and the committee were trying to skirt the league’s constitution by not seeking a full vote on the new contract." In a letter back to Jones sent on Saturday, the compensation committee said that it was "not violating the league’s constitution." The committee "repeated that all 32 owners voted in May to extend Goodell’s contract and empowered the committee to work out the details." The committee said that it would "continue to speak to all owners about the progress of the negotiations." Both letters were "copied to all 32 team owners." The committee said Jones' statements were “disappointing and undermine the spirit of partnership that has served our sport so well for so many decades” (N.Y. TIMES, 11/19). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Andrew Beaton noted Jones in his letter "alleged the other owners and Goodell are 'trying to subvert' the league’s constitution" (WSJ.com, 11/18).

STRIKING BACK: In DC, Mark Maske cited sources as saying that there is "strong and increasing sentiment among NFL owners that league leaders should take disciplinary action" against Jones, although that would "not include attempting to strip Jones of his franchise." Sources added that it is "not clear how many owners favor taking action against Jones, but the group that supports such a move is said to include some of the league’s most influential owners" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/19). But Jones on Friday said, "It would be madness to think that everything I'm doing isn't in the best short and long-term interest of the NFL. I love this league and I love this game. And the men that are involved, the committee, the owners, they are really good men" (DALLASNEWS.com, 11/18).

Jones openly criticized Kraft's (l) handling of a recent dispute with Goodell (r)
OUT IN THE OPEN
: ESPN's Schefter said, "There are plenty of fights that go on within the NFL between powerful people. It's just that most of them, almost all of them, occur behind closed doors. This one is right out in front, in public for everyone to see and judge. To me, this is an issue where this is an accumulation of everything that has happened within the last three, four, five years." He said the "whole thing is jarring" to Steelers President Art Rooney II and Giants President & CEO John Mara. Schefter: "They're not used to battle and confrontations. They're not used to commissioners and owners butting heads" (DALLASNEWS.com, 11/17). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, "What we have now, it's like two warships, they're out at sea, and they're firing their cannons as loudly as and as destructively as possible, and they're aimed at the other guy very specifically" ("PTI," ESPN, 11/17). CBSSN's La Canfora: "This war is raging, but it's one-sided. Jerry Jones is the one really propagating this and continuing this fight" ("That Other Pregame Show," CBSSN, 11/19). NBC's Cris Collinsworth: "That is one major heavyweight fight right there" ("Eagles-Cowboys," NBC, 11/19). In Boston, Karen Guregian wrote Jones "loves to shoot from the hip," but he "doesn’t seem to care if the NFL crumbles around him in the process." As long as he "finds his brand of justice, everything else be damned." Jones was quoted in an ESPN piece last week as saying Patriots Owner Robert Kraft "is a (expletive) compared to what I’m going to do” to Goodell. Guregian: "Make fun of Kraft. But he had the last laugh. In the end, when this NFL civil war between Jones and Goodell ultimately settles down, it’s a smart bet that owners are going to be looking for stability" (BOSTON HERALD, 11/18).

LET'S TALK BUSINESS
: In N.Y., Gary Myers wrote, "Even as unwatchable as the NFL product has been this season, how is it that a $14 billion enterprise is so dysfunctional that its two most powerful people are going for each other’s throats?" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/19). CBS Sports Network's Amy Trask in a special to the HOUSTON CHRONICLE wrote the "bombastic threats" between Jones and the compensation committee "make for sensational headlines and sound bites." Trask: "But I am not at all heated up about the matters that are swirling in the public court. These are routine business matters that are far less explosive than many believe them to be." Trask, the former Raiders Chief Exec, believes that "ultimately consensus" on Goodell's extension "will be reached" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 11/18).

ISOLATION PLAY: CBSSPORTS.com's La Canfora cited sources as saying that Jones' "ongoing attacks on Goodell and his threat to sue other owners have continued to isolate him." A source said that Jones retaining a lawyer and his ongoing antics have "pushed some owners who previously were in favor of waiting to finalize and announce a new deal with the commissioner" to "bring the matter before a full vote of ownership are now firmly supporting completing the process ASAP" (CBSSPORTS.com, 11/19). In Toronto, Bruce Arthur wrote Jones's "open rebellion ... is new." He "might not win this round, but it sure feels" like Goodell, "isn’t inevitable anymore." Arthur: "If there’s a better salesman in the NFL than Jones, he hasn’t been discovered yet" (TORONTO STAR, 11/18). ESPN's Jim Trotter said Jones "likes a fight," and he has "never backed down" from one ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 11/20). In Dallas, Kevin Sherrington wrote if the NFL "couldn't excommunicate" late Raiders Owner Al Davis, the "Lucifer of their little club, they won't get rid of Jerry Jones so easily, either." Meanwhile, Jones "shouldn't count on carte blanche of owners." The league has "seen 20 new ones since he made his old peers richer with mid-'90s TV deals." The "new breed" of owners, including Blank, "may not feel they owe him" (DALLASNEWS.com, 11/18). ESPN's Pablo Torre said the fight from Jones "seems deeply personal ... and it's less about principle." Torre: "I get his personal vendetta, but let's be clear, it is personal and rooted in [Cowboys RB] Ezekiel Elliott" ("PTI," ESPN, 11/17). ESPN's Mina Kimes said Goodell has been "trying to rehabilitate his image as the commissioner for years, but all he had to do this whole time was antagonize Jerry Jones" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 11/17).

CHOKE THE MEDICINE DOWN: ESPN.com's Mike Reiss notes Patriots President Jonathan Kraft addressed Jones' recent comments prior to the team's game against the Raiders, and while he "wouldn't comment specifically on Jones' threats regarding Goodell's possible extension because of the possibility of litigation, Kraft spoke from a big-picture perspective." Kraft, talking on WBZ-FM, said, "Back when our fan base and ourselves were going through the air-pressure thing -- and Jerry had gone through the salary-cap stuff -- he said you all should take your medicine and just focus on winning football games. When you’re upset and angry, that’s not what you want to hear because I don’t think Tom (Brady) was treated fairly, I don’t think our fans thought Tom was treated fairly. But we ended up taking his advice and winning the Super Bowl. I think it was good advice" (ESPN.com, 11/19).
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