Jerry Jones has long been painted as one of the most powerful men in sports. He has achieved a significant cache within the NFL in making the Cowboys one of the most valued commodities in all of global sports, but that is quickly eroding, according to numerous league and ownership sources. Jones' recent outbursts in public and in private, and his attacks on commissioner Roger Goodell, are being seen by his peers as a direct reaction to his anger of Ezekiel Elliott's six-game suspension, the sources said, and are diminishing his respect and influence among other owners.
Jones' threat last week to potentially sue the league and other owners over Goodell getting a new contract extension -- considered a foregone conclusion in league circles since the spring, when all 32 owners empowered the Compensation Committee to negotiate a deal without further approval required -- has angered fellow owners and increasingly isolated Jones. The sources suggest that "at best" Jones has maybe three other owners in his corner that Goodell should go, but is nowhere close to the 24 votes required to derail a process that is in essence already completed (pending just a formal signing and announcement, sources said).
Furthermore, given some of the safeguards the NFL has put in place the last 20 years after repeated legal battles with now-deceased Raiders owner Al Davis, securing a lawyer is "an empty threat" as one team source put it. Indeed, no lawsuit had been filed by the close of business Friday, sources said.
"This is way over the top," one league source said. "You don't threaten to sue your business partners because you are pissed off that your running back got suspended. That's not how business is conducted in the league. Jerry already had only a handful of guys backing him on this (calling for Goodell's job), and he is isolating himself more and more by doing things this way. This isn't how you try to get your way in the NFL. It's not going to work."
Indeed, the league office said this week that Goodell's contract, which will be worth over $200 million in total and run until 2024 and the owners will also include the fully subjective bonuses which they will determine each year, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, should be formally completed soon, and acknowledged that, in response to his unusual actions, Jones was no longer allowed to serve as an ad hoc member of the Compensation Committee.
Several league sources noted, however, that Jones was allowed to participate in some of the functions of that committee, despite not being formally named to it, back in the spring and summer, precisely because of his support of Goodell and his ability to move things along as an influential owner. With Jones among the 32 owners voting to begin the process back in the spring meeting in Chicago, had committee chairman Arthur Blank viewed him as an obstructionist he wouldn't have gained the ad hoc status, I'm told.
"Jerry was fully on board with this right up until the suspension came down," one ownership source said. "That isn't lost on us."
Jones' comments on protesting players and Donald Trump quickly made him a key figure in the ongoing collusion grievance filed by out-of-work quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and while the league office said no further discipline of sanctions are planned against Jones, and he remains highly-regarded as a marketing and branding genius and an innovative owner in the business of football, the recently enshrined Hall of Famer has tarnished his reputation among his peers with his recent words and actions.