The NFL, already wrestling with issues such as player protests and declining television ratings, is apparently under attack from within
The NFL, already wrestling with issues such as player protests and declining television ratings, is apparently under attack from within. The New York Times reported on Wednesday that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, one of the most powerful men in football, will sue if a contract extension for commissioner Roger Goodell is approved by the leagues compensation committee. A team owner and executive later backed up the Times report to ESPNs Outside The Lines.
Jones has reportedly hired David Boies, who has represented Harvey Weinstein against allegations of sexual assault, to pursue the case if Goodells contract is renewed past 2018. Goodell earned $34m in 2015.
Jones, whose Cowboys are the most valuable franchise in the NFL and all of sports, holds considerable influence among his fellow owners. In May he, along with the other 31 team owners, voted to extend Goodells contract and left the compensation committee to work out the details. However, Jones has become incensed with how the league has handled the suspension of the Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott over domestic abuse allegations. Zeke is a victim of an overcorrection, Jones said in October. Elliott has appealed against his suspension and has yet to serve the proposed six-game ban.
Jones, and other owners, are also believed to be unhappy with the way Goodell has handled the player protests that have dominated headlines this season. A significant number of players have knelt during the anthem to raise awareness of racial and social inequality in the US. The movement is becoming an increasing worry for NFL owners, some of whom believe it is hitting the leagues bottom line. The leagues television ratings are down this season, although it is not clear whether this is directly linked to the protests, as TV sports audiences have fallen across America. Jones has said he would bench any player who knelt during the anthem and has said sponsors have told him they are worried about the protests putting off customers. There is no question the league is suffering negative effects from these protests, Jones said in October.
One NFL team executive told ESPN that Joness displeasure was shared with others, and it is a lack of an alternative that may save Goodell. Most owners would admit that Roger has done a terrible job handling the anthem controversy and a terrible job explaining the ratings declines, a terrible job on any number of other issues, the executive said.
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