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Volume 24 No. 156
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NFL Owners Accuse Jerry Jones Of Trying To Sabotage Goodell Contract Negotiations

The NFL has accused Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones of "trying to sabotage its contract negotiations" with Commissioner Roger Goodell, "calling his conduct 'detrimental to the league’s best interests,'" according to Andrew Beaton of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Sources said that the tension has "grown so severe that the topic of removing Jones has been discussed by at least some owners." That type of "drastic action would require the league showing conduct detrimental to the league -- which is exactly the language the league used" yesterday in a letter sent to Jones’ attorney, David Boies. The letter says Jones' “antics, whatever their motivation, are damaging the League.” The letter was in response to Boies' memo from earlier in the week, which stated that Jones is in "possession of a document that shows that certain statements made about those negotiations are not accurate.” Boies’ letter says that Jones "believes it is important that the owners know the truth about the negotiations." However, the league says “there is no legitimate basis for Mr. Jones to circulate to the full ownership a three-month-old document” that he "personally knows to be an outdated, historical artifact of no relevance whatsoever in the context of these lengthy negotiations." The NFL's letter states, "With due respect, we urge Mr. Jones to drop his misguided litigation threats and media campaign to undermine the Committee’s mandate" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/16). In N.Y., Ken Belson writes the league's letter is yet "another sign that the feud between Jones and his colleagues is not abating." The owners "signaled that they were not ruling out pushing for sanctions against Jones" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/16). In DC, Mark Maske cites sources as saying that some owners are "urging league leaders to consider possible disciplinary action against Jones," which "could include a fine, suspension or the loss of a draft pick or picks by the Cowboys" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/16).

BATTLE ROYALE
: The MMQB's Peter King said the NFL is "not going to try to take" Jones' franchise away from him. Appearing on Dallas-based KTCK-FM yesterday, King said the idea is "ridiculous." But King added, "You really get the feeling right now that Jerry at least at this point is a lone wolf against Roger Goodell's contract and against Roger Goodell's commissionership." King cited an owner as saying that Jones has a "very good point about this stuff that we need to have a commissioner who's got the juice to be able to do things like solve little problems like this." King noted "more than one owner has brought up the fact" that former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and late NFLPA Exec Dir Gene Upshaw "could have worked together probably to find a solution to this anthem issue." But Goodell "right now basically has no friends in the players association, and most players ... take a very dim view of the commissioner." King added, "I don't think Goodell is necessarily really mishandling the issues. It's just that they pile up, and they continue to exist" (DALLASNEWS.com, 11/15).

THIS TIMES, IT'S PERSONAL: In Houston, Brian Smith writes the NFL has been a "weekly disaster this season." No wonder Goodell "wants to take the money and run." The NFL is "losing" its fans in the process. Jones "suddenly turns into the national voice of reason, as he mounts a one-man stand against the NFL's king." Smith: "Kudos to Jones for having the personal fire to go after Goodell" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 11/16). In Dallas, Tim Cowlishaw writes Jones "may have been bothered more than most by Goodell's soft approach to dealing with players on the anthem protest." But "radical change and ousting a commissioner isn't high" on the owners' agenda. The one big story that "wasn't present a year ago" relates to Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott's suspension and the "authoritarian rule that was wielded to suspend him." Cowlishaw: "This battle is a personal one. Jones won't go quietly, but the deck is stacked against him" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 11/16).

MOVING ON
: Elliott dropped his appeal yesterday and will serve out the remainder of his suspension, and in Ft. Worth, Mac Engel writes if there is "any good to come" of Elliott's case it is that the NFL and the union will go back into its CBA and "put the power of punishment and fines in the hands of a neutral third party, paid equally by the league and union." It is known "conclusively that the commissioner can’t be trusted on these matters." Between "keeping Goodell, firing Goodell or reducing Goodell’s salary, the priority has to be changing how the NFL investigates and levies punishments against one of its players who goes stupid." The current method is an "unpredictable joke not befitting a billion-dollar organization" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 11/16).

PLAYERS TALK
: Goodell is reportedly seeking slightly less than $50M in salary as part of his next contract, among other things. Buccaneers DT Gerald McCoy, when asked of his thoughts of a new contract for Goodell, said, "How much? Five zero? Annually? That means every year? Five zero million? Oooh! I don't know. I don't really have a comment on that. Do we (players) have a say in that? That's the owners, right?" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 11/16). Lions S Glover Quin, on another reported Goodell demand: "Lifetime use of medical insurance? And you don’t even play and we play and we can’t even get lifetime health insurance? Come on, man" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 11/16).

TAGLIABUE CREDITS GOODELL: Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue spoke about the anthem issue and the NFL’s handling of it at an event Tuesday night at the Univ. of Michigan. Tagliabue said, “It is hard enough for the NFL to produce some spots for the United Way on non-controversial things. So I give Commissioner Goodell a lot of credit for taking on the hard challenge, which is to be respectful of the public and families with men and women in the military who lost family members, respectful of the divergence of views we have in America on these issues, but to deal with the underlying substance of what these players are trying to accomplish.” Click here to see more from this discussion.