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Volume 24 No. 156

Leagues and Governing Bodies

Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones has "dropped the notion of suing fellow NFL owners over the process for extending" Commissioner Roger Goodell’s contract, though he is "hardly ready to give up the fight," according to Jarrett Bell of USA TODAY. Jones wants the "full body of owners -- not just the six-member compensation committee -- to finalize the pact and structure of performance bonuses that reportedly could bring the commissioner's annual pay" to roughly $50M. He said, "This is not about replacing Roger. It’s a misnomer to say it’s payback for Ezekiel Elliott. It is about the accountability of the commissioner to all of the ownership.” Bell cites one owner not on the compensation committee as saying that he "expects Goodell’s contract will be finished by early next week." Another owner also said that he "believes Jones’ admonishment of the process has actually helped pushed the deal to completion." Although Jones said that he "enjoys the support of several owners regarding the merits of his objections, it’s clear that he has rankled others." The "tipping point came with the threat to sue" (USA TODAY, 11/22). In N.Y., Ken Belson noted Jones' decision came Tuesday "in a letter sent" to Falcons Owner Arthur Blank, who chairs the compensation committee. Jones said the committee now “is receiving valuable feedback from a number of owners." In his letter, Jones said he was trying to “prevent more damage to the league." He noted there was more "discontent amongst our fans than ever before.” He said that the league office had an "inflated staff and budget, [and] sponsors believed the league had 'credibility issues'" (NYTIMES.com, 11/21). Jones in the letter wrote Goodell's performance “cannot be rewarded at this time.” Jones: "Our job is far from finished." Jones wrote his “goal these past few weeks has been to ensure that we have an opportunity, as a league, to engage in an open and frank conversation about this contract extension” (WSJ.com, 11/21).

CONSISTENTLY INCONSISTENT: ESPN's Jemele Hill in a special to THE UNDEFEATED wrote the coup Jones is "trying to stage" against Goodell after "years of singing his praises is just laughable." It is a "classic example of the chickens coming home to roost." The NFL, in many respects, is "getting exactly what it deserves." For years, players have "complained that Goodell’s power was too absolute and his player punishments were wildly inconsistent." The personal conduct policy instituted in '97 was strengthened in '07 after a "slew of player arrests," as the NFL "needed to send the message that lawlessness wouldn’t be tolerated." The owners "couldn’t have been happier that Goodell, and Goodell alone, would wield his gavel like Thor wielded his hammer." Hill: "My bet is that the owners never anticipated that Goodell would one day use that authority to damage them" (THEUNDEFEATED.com, 11/21).

BUILDING BLOCKER? The Cowboys will host the '18 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium, but ESPN.com's Todd Archer wondered if the "fight between the league and Jones" could "play a part" in whether the Super Bowl returns to the venue. There were issues when Super Bowl XLV was played at AT&T Stadium in '11 with the "weather and a seating fiasco, but NFL owners like money, and they made a lot." Archer: "But I don’t believe Jones is as fired up about a Super Bowl coming back to town in part because he would have to give up a home game in the future with a date either overseas or in Mexico." Jones is "all for growing the game, but not at the expense of his fan base losing a game." It could be a "long time before a Super Bowl comes back to North Texas" (ESPN.com, 11/21).

Some NFL owners believe there is a "strong possibility they will enact an offseason change to the league’s national anthem policy if players’ protests during the anthem persist through the end of this season, reverting to a previous approach of keeping players in the locker room while the anthem is played," according to sources cited by Mark Maske of the WASHINGTON POST. A source said it was "too early to tell" for certain if the change to the anthem policy will be made by owners and the NFL. The source said that they were "'not sure' if a formal vote of the owners would be required to enact such a change." The source: "Most owners would support it, particularly if players continue to kneel this season." Sources said that they "did not know at this point exactly how many owners would favor such an approach, and they cautioned that there have been no detailed discussions yet about leaving teams and players in the locker room for the anthem because owners did not consider it appropriate to make an in-season change to the policy." Sources added that the matter "could be addressed at the annual league meeting in March." Maske notes the "change to having players and coaches on the sideline for the anthem was made" in '09. Meanwhile, the "pressure from the White House has not relented." After Raiders RB Marshawn Lynch refused to stand for the U.S. anthem before Sunday’s game against the Patriots in Mexico City, President Trump "offered critical comments Monday on Twitter" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/22).

PROTESTS COULD BE DECLINING: In DC, Valerie Richardson writes for the second week in a row, only a "handful NFL players refused to stand for the national anthem, raising the possibility that the political protest may fade on its own without league action." Only five players "sat or took a knee for the national anthem in Week 11, following a week that saw just six players do so." None of the players for the NFL’s two "most activist teams" -- the Seahawks and 49ers -- "refused to stand this week for the national anthem," though the 49ers were on bye. All of the Seahawks "stood for the anthem before the Monday night in a nod to the team’s Salute to Service game honoring veterans." The "real test will come in Week 12," when the Seahawks square off Sunday against the 49ers in S.F. in what "could be described as the Take-a-Knee Bowl" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 11/22). PFT's Mike Florio said the anthem issue has "kind of died down." The reason the story "continues to be a story is because guys kneel and talk about kneeling and the media talks about kneeling." Florio: "If they're in the locker room, there's nothing to talk about. For one week, it will be, ‘There are no players out here. Back to you, Jim.’ It goes away and dies a natural death” (“PFT,” NBCSN, 11/22).