Few owners, if any, are as powerful and influential as the Dallas Cowboy’s owner Jerry Jones. Jones’ tenure with the Cowboys is relatively new after he bought the franchise in 1989 for a bargain $140 million. In the time since, he’s played an integral role in the NFL’s ascent to the top of the sports financial food chain.
His savvy business moves to secure television rights with Fox as the NFC’s primary broadcaster helped the league gain over 10 billion in television revenues per season. More recently, Jones was instrumental in bringing two woebegone franchises to the Los Angeles area, the country’s second-largest television revenue market.
For all the money Jones has made the NFL over his 27-year tenure, Jones is now attempting to take some of it back. With the hire of legal attorney David Boies, Jones has taken action against the NFL from a mere temper-tantrum to borderline reality. Jones has apparently been at odds with the other 31 owners over Rodger Goodell’s contract extension. According to a source familiar with the negotiations, his asking price is 49.5 million per year and a private jet – for life – to transport him and his family to another city where he can continue to do his job poorly.
So, in attempting his best Al Davis impersonation, Jones is likely to sue if the commissioner’s contract is extended. The motivating factor behind all of this may be the Ezekiel Elliot suspension which has Jones’ tail feathers in a ruffle. Funny that just three years ago Jones was praising Goodell’s effort saying that he was a huge supporter of the commissioner, commending the work he accomplished and the stance he took against the Patriots during the Deflategate circus.
Given that Jones is not on the committee that decides whether or not Goodell get his extension, the deal will likely get done, and Jones will likely sue. To put the ramifications of his decision in perspective, we can look at a well-known historical example. Back in 1980, Oakland Raiders owner, Al Davis attempted to move the franchise to Los Angeles. This move was blocked by a court injunction, so Davis sued. The federal district court ended up siding with Davis, and the team moved to LA. While the owner eventually got what he wanted, the animosity towards the Davis family still may not have subsided.
Mark Davis, Al’s son and current owner of the Raiders, again attempted to move the franchise to LA from Oakland but was blocked by owners even though the Raiders clearly have a larger fan-base in the area over the Chargers and Rams. Instead, the Raiders will be moving to Vegas in 2020. Jones’ decision to sue may linger over this franchise for decades to come and affect future generations of the Cowboy franchise owners.
On Tuesday, the competition committee instructed Jones to stop disputing the eventual extension, and it appears the NFL will go toe-to-toe with Jones should he decide to pursue his lawsuit and Jones doesn’t appear to be backing off anytime soon. While the beef between Jones and the NFL feels like a staring match between a couple of privileged billionaires, the situation is worth monitoring over the next few months. Goodell’s current contract doesn’t expire until 2019.