They like him. They re­ally like him

Waterloo Region Record - - SPORTS - Cindy Boren

Na­tional Foot­ball League com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell has his new con­tract ex­ten­sion, an enor­mous deal that also hap­pens to rep­re­sent vic­tory over one owner who had sparked an ugly rift that ex­posed ten­sions among own­ers and tore back the cur­tain on in­ner work­ings that mil­lion­aire and bil­lion­aire own­ers would pre­fer to re­main se­cret.

Good­ell and the NFL’s com­pen­sa­tion com­mit­tee reached agree­ment Wed­nes­day on a five-year ex­ten­sion worth up to $200 mil­lion, one that could top out at about $40 mil­lion an­nu­ally with close to 90 per cent tied to in­cen­tives. The con­tract was months in the mak­ing, mostly be­cause Dal­las Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was in open re­volt.

“What many own­ers said in the past few days was they wanted to get on with the business of the league, and there are a lot of is­sues very im­por­tant right now that must be ad­dressed,” At­lanta Fal­cons owner Arthur Blank, who heads the six-owner com­mit­tee, told SI’s Peter King. “Now we’ll get to fo­cus on the real is­sues. The im­por­tant thing is, the own­ers have con­fi­dence in Roger, and they wanted him to con­tinue. There was no doubt about that.”

Along the way, though, Jones threw a fit, with one-high rank­ing of­fi­cial with an NFL team telling The Washington Post last month: “It’s mostly a tem­per tantrum.” If so, it was an ef­fec­tive one, with Jones seek­ing to wrest con­trol of the process by forc­ing his way onto the com­mit­tee, try­ing to lead an up­ris­ing of own­ers to block a new deal or oust Good­ell, and hired an at­tor­ney who was pre­pared to sue the league if it pro­ceeded with ap­prov­ing Good­ell’s new deal.

Shades of the late Al Davis, with­out the af­fec­tion that the pas­sage of time has brought to his squab­bles.

As the con­tract was be­ing com­pleted over the past few days, a re­lieved Blank told King he had reached out to Jones, who, he said, “un­der­stands the con­tract and how we got here.”

We’ll see how well that works out in a week, when own­ers have an an­nual meet­ing Dec. 13 in Irv­ing, Texas — Jones’s back­yard. There’s plenty of ug­li­ness to over­come, given ESPN’s re­port of what went down when Jones was told of run­ning back Ezekiel El­liott’s six-game sus­pen­sion in Au­gust.

“I’m gonna come af­ter you with ev­ery­thing I have,” Jones said, ac­cord­ing to ESPN.

He went on to men­tion De­flate­gate, for which New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots quar­ter­back Tom Brady was sus­pended four games at the start of the 2016 sea­son.

“If you think (Pa­tri­ots owner) Bob Kraft came af­ter you hard, Bob Kraft is a (ex­ple­tive) com­pared to what I’m go­ing to do.”

Things got so bad that there were threats that Jones could be stripped of own­er­ship of the team or at least dis­ci­plined in some fash­ion by fel­low own­ers.

“Clearly, around Roger’s con­tract, there have been threats of lit­i­ga­tion that I have al­ready spent too much of my life in de­po­si­tions. I want to try and min­i­mize that go­ing for­ward,” Jonathan Kraft, the Pa­tri­ots’ pres­i­dent and son of Bob Kraft, said last month. “I am not go­ing to com­ment on that process, but what I would say is Jerry, back when our fan base and our­selves were go­ing through the whole air pres­sure thing, Jerry had gone through the salary cap stuff, and he said ba­si­cally, ‘I think y’all should take your medicine and just fo­cus on win­ning foot­ball games.’ ”

Kraft was re­fer­ring to the Cowboys be­ing docked $10 mil­lion in salary cap space in 2012 and ’13 as pun­ish­ment for how they struc­tured play­ers’ con­tracts dur­ing the NFL’s ’10 sea­son with­out a salary cap. (The Washington Redskins were sim­i­larly pun­ished.) The Krafts were in­deed fu­ri­ous as De­flate­gate dom­i­nated 2015 head­lines and Robert Kraft scathingly said, “I was wrong to put my faith in the league,” adding, “I have come to the con­clu­sion this was never about do­ing what was fair and just.” Pa­tri­ots fans were irate, and Good­ell didn’t re­turn to Gil­lette Sta­dium un­til this year.

“(W)hen you’re up­set and you’re an­gry it’s not what you want to hear be­cause I don’t think Tom was treated fairly,” Jonathan Kraft said. “I don’t think any of our fans feel Tom was treated fairly, but we ended up tak­ing that ad­vice and we ended up win­ning the Su­per Bowl. I think it was good ad­vice.”

Jones has a point that plenty of se­ri­ous is­sues are con­fronting own­ers, such as TV rat­ings, at­ten­dance, na­tional an­them demon­stra­tions that have drawn the ire of U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, and de­creased in­volve­ment by kids in youth foot­ball.

“One thing that’s come out of this that’s very good, I be­lieve, is the fact that own­ers are go­ing to have a much more open line of com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Roger now,” Blank told King.

“At ev­ery own­ers’ meet­ing now, we’re go­ing to have an own­ers only ses­sion, and then an own­ers ses­sion with Roger, with ev­ery­one else out of the room. The own­ers asked for that con­tact, and it’s a rea­son­able thing to ask. We’re go­ing to do it.”


Roger Good­ell has signed a five-year, $200-mil­lion deal with the NFL.

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