NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones have been outspoken regarding the national anthem protests carried out by NFL players. Particularly, their differences in opinion have led many to believe in a conflict between the two. Recent measures have made that more likely than ever.
After news broke of a lavish contract extension counterproposal allegedly submitted by Goodell to the league’s Compensation Committee, Jones threatened legal action if the proposal was accepted without renegotiation. Now, The Daily Caller reported that a letter from numerous NFL owners have called his actions “damaging [to] the League” prompting discussions considering Jones’ removal from the league.
Included among Goodell’s contract extension demands is a $49.5 million salary — an increase from $30 million — as well as lifetime access to a private jet, and lifetime health insurance for Goodell and his family. The contract would allow him to serve as NFL commissioner until 2024, upon which his tenure would total 18 years.
During a November 2 conference call with the Compensation Committee — of which Jones was a member — Jones announced that he had “papers drawn up” and would take legal action against the league if Goodell’s contract was accepted.
Jones’ statement led to his removal from the committee, and rumors swirled that owners were left shocked and outraged by his threat, and were considering forcing him out the league.
Now that a letter has emerged, it seems those rumors hold weight. The letter was shared with all 32 owners in the league, and calls Jones’ actions “detrimental to the league’s best interests.” It further added a request for “Mr. Jones to drop his misguided litigation threats and media campaign to undermine the Committee’s mandate.”
Jones responded with a letter of his own issued on a Dallas Cowboys letterhead.
The letter explained that the league “has undergone unprecedented upheaval in the last two years, including a significant decline in television ratings, increased advertiser discontent, high-profile litigation concerning player suspensions, and decreasing ticket sales.” It continues, “This is not the time for the League to undertake massive contractual obligations which are inconsistent with the League’s performance.”
Controversy in the NFL spurred by protests of the national anthem resulted in a media firestorm. NFL attendance and ratings declined, as well as ESPN ratings and subscribers. Companies have threatened to pull their advertising from NFL games if the politicization continues. The NFL has become the least favorable sport, according to polls.
Earlier in the season, Jones announced to reporters that if any of his team’s players kneeled in protest of the anthem, they would be benched for the whole game. This stands in stark contrast to Goodell’s statement, which only suggested that players stand for the anthem. He failed to enact any punishment for players who kneeled in protest. He went so far as to defend the protesting players, stating players are “not doing this to be disrespectful to the flag, but they understand how it’s being interpreted.”
It’s possible that Jerry Jones could be removed from the NFL. Will his removal hurt the NFL further?
The NFL owners are scheduled to hold meetings regarding the conflict. Jones has requested that the league permit his attendance to the meetings so he can discuss the issues face to face.
If the league owners collectively determine that Jones’ conduct was indeed detrimental to the league, Jones could certainly face punishment. Although the harshest option is removal from the league, it’s unclear whether or not they will resort to that option.