Jerry Jones’ rep takes a beating
Within NFL hierarchy, Jones finds himself on the ropes
Jerry Jones’ reputation as an NFL visionary and transformative figure has taken a beating since his enshrinement in the Hall of Fame four months ago, David Moore writes.
FRISCO — Four short months ago Jerry Jones was on top of the NFL world. He slipped on a gold jacket as a member of the Hall of Fame, listened to Justin Timberlake perform at his enshrinement party and presided over a team expected to contend for the Super Bowl.
The Cowboys owner was hailed as a transformative figure, a visionary in search of new paradigms with the force of conviction to win converts and the political touch to build consensus.
That reputation has taken a hit since those celebratory days in Canton, Ohio, in early August. Commissioner
Roger Goodell’s extension in the last 48 hours underscores how little influence Jones wields at the moment.
The timing is no coincidence. Owners and league officials gather in Irving next week for their annual winter meeting. Members of the compensation committee worked hard to ensure the deal was in place before Wednesday’s session to negate any obstructionist ploy Jones might spring from the floor.
This comes less than two months after a meeting in New York where the majority of owners rejected his message and approach on how to handle the national
It’s been popular through the years to lump Jones in the same category as former Raiders owner Al Davis, a mentor the Cowboys owner admired greatly. That characterization has never been completely accurate.
Sure, Jones was legally contentious in his early days as the franchise’s owner when it came to marketing deals with Nike and others. He challenged the status quo and the league’s allegiance to the establishment in steering a TV deal to the fledgling Fox network.
Jones at his innovative best is a rebel with a cause. The only active owner with a bust in the Hall of Fame wants to lead his peers to a financial promised land, not pick unnecessary fights or be a constant thorn in their sides.
What has happened to that Jerry Jones?
His mandate that players stand for the anthem or sit for the game scores big points with a significant portion of the fan base but likely leaves him out of step in historical reflection. Coming on the heels of the negative backlash the organization received in Week 3 for kneeling in solidarity then standing when the anthem was played smacks of an economic calculation on Jones’ part more than it does a matter of principle.
The failed crusade to block Goodell’s extension comes across as a petty and vindictive response to Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension more than it does a grand vision or philosophical line in the sand for the good of the league.
Jones did express doubts to confidants and colleagues about the power the commissioner has been allowed to accrue months before Goodell issued his sixgame suspension of Elliott. Jones viewed contract talks as the perfect time to address the issue, to remind Goodell that he worked for the owners, not the other way around.
An extension, in Jones’ mind, was to be offered once the employer-employee dynamic was firmly back in place.
Jones is consistent on this point. He’s always been a champion of state rights over federal rights, believing the greatest power should reside with each individual franchise. Let the people on Park Avenue legislate and promote the sport and the Super Bowl and allow the individual franchises, who have a better feel for their markets, strike deals that make sense for their situation.
That’s one area where he and Davis have always been aligned.
The problem is that Jones, then an ad-hoc member of the compensation committee, signed off on the parameters of Goodell’s new contract on Aug. 9. Elliott’s suspension came down two days later.
It’s impossible to view his ensuing resistance to Goodell’s contract, at one point threatening to sue his partners, as anything other than a spiteful counterpunch. This creates a much different feel and perception to Jones’ opposition now than there was earlier in his career.
It makes him more of a contrarian or outsider, one incapable of meaningful, positive clout within the league.
Jones has done too much for this league for too long to dismiss him going forward. But at the moment he no longer has a seat at the table.
He’s done it to himself. On top of that, the Cowboys are far from being a Super Bowl contender. Odds are this team won’t even make the playoffs.
The fall from the pinnacle in August has been swift and decisive.
Catch David Moore and Robert Wilonsky as they cohost Intentional Grounding on The Ticket KTCK-AM (1310) and KTCK-FM (96.7) every Wednesday from 7-8 p.m. through the Super Bowl.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (left) and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones have not seen eye-to-eye lately.