Jerry Jones’ rep takes a beat­ing

Within NFL hi­er­ar­chy, Jones finds him­self on the ropes

The Dallas Morning News - - Front Page - EAVIE |11.E dmoore@dal­las­news.com

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

an­them con­tro­versy.

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.

Like Davis.

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.

Staff Illustration/michael Hogue

2014 File Photo/the As­so­ci­ated Press

NFL Com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell (left) and Cow­boys owner Jerry Jones have not seen eye-to-eye lately.

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