Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on Friday sent a letter to other owners calling for further review of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s impending contract extension, while accusing Goodell and Jones’ fellow team owners of “trying to subvert” league governance.
The letter, which was seen by the Wall Street Journal, continued what has become a lonely crusade for Jones. In it, Jones reiterated concerns including declining ratings, and wrote that “this is not the time for the League to undertake massive contractual obligations which are inconsistent with the League’s performance.”
Jones called for the review and approval of Goodell’s contract by all owners. But several of those owners, according to the Journal, have since pointed out that such a review took place in May, when owners unanimously authorized the extension.
Jones’ fight against Goodell ostensibly reflects serious developments since that May vote, though. That includes the spread of player protests against police brutality, which Goodell initially supported before, along with owners including Jones, seeking to quiet them. The protests have been prominent among causes cited for the continuing dramatic drop in NFL ratings, though close observers argue that the majority of the problem has to do with things Goodell has had more control over during his decade-plus as commissioner, including overscheduling and misguided expansion strategy.
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The ratings drop was recently calculated at a whopping 7% year over year, after an even bigger drop last year. That has led some analysts to cut earnings expectations for NFL broadcasters including CBS and Fox, who are locked into long-term contracts with the league.
According to some reports, though, Jones’ fight with Goodell is actually driven less by those broad issues than by the league’s six-game suspension of Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliot. According to ESPN, Jones threatened to “come after [Goodell] with everything I have” when Goodell informed him of the suspension in August — well before protests or ratings reached their current crisis state. The long dispute over that suspension was referenced in Jones’ Friday letter.
Other league owners have shown little patience for Jones’ fight. On Wednesday, the league formally accused Jones of conduct “detrimental to the league’s best interests,” and there is reportedly growing support among owners for some sort of disciplinary action against Jones, though the Washington Post reported Saturday that it would not include taking the Cowboys away from him.