Every league meeting includes a variety of sessions attended by a variety of people. Last week in Arizona, one specific session included only the owners.
Unusual but not unprecedented, the owners-only meeting (technically an executive session of the Finance and Compensation Committees) focused in part on discussions regarding Commissioner Roger Goodell’s next contract and succession planning, based on a potential transition that would be initiated by Goodell after the next labor deal and TV contracts are finalized. The owners-only meeting also included an opportunity for any and all owners to speak about any and all topics they chose.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones spoke extensively during the meeting, per a source with direct knowledge of the session. As a source close to Jones explained it to PFT, Jones knows from experience that most of the membership will choose not to speak up in those situations. Jones decided to introduce topics about which he and other owners have questions or concerns.
As to the issue of Goodell’s next contract, Jones suggested that all owners be involved in the process. Currently, the Compensation Committee handles the determination and negotiation of Goodell’s pay. Multiple owners currently believe that broader involvement of the membership would result in terms more favorable to the league. (To put it more bluntly, some in the room think they may be paying Goodell too much money.)
Jones also raised the question of the NFL’s position on marijuana. Jones, per a source who heard the comments, wants the league to drop its prohibition on marijuana use. Jones was reminded that the issue falls under the umbrella of collective bargaining, which would require the players to make one or more concessions in exchange for significant changes to the marijuana prohibition.
Separately, the league office reiterated to PFT its position that any changes to the substance-abuse policy would occur within the confines of labor negotiations, and that the league is willing to listen to the medical community about any potential changes to the rules regarding marijuana.
Jones likewise urged an end to the practice of investigating off-field misconduct. The NFL became more proactive regarding these issues after the Ray Rice situation forced the league to no longer defer to the criminal justice system, which often imposes insufficient sanctions for clear acts of misbehavior.
A league spokesman told PFT that the NFL continues to maintain its commitment to pursuing investigations that are relevant and meaningful, and that the league office always looks to be efficient when conducting investigations.
The Cowboys had no comment as to any aspect of this story.
Jones’ concerns regarding marijuana and investigations are understandable; he has seen players like Rolando McClain, Demarcus Lawrence, and Randy Gregory lost in recent years to suspensions under the substance-abuse policy. As to the league’s recent decision to investigate misconduct even after a criminal case is closed, Jones has lingering frustrations flowing from the Ezekiel Elliott situation, which has still not been resolved by the league.
That said, a source close to Jones insisted that he remains fully committed to Goodell. Which is important for Goodell, given the influence Jones has over many league matters.
He’d apparently like to have even more influence as to the three specific issues mentioned. For now, though, it appears that dramatic changes aren’t coming, on any of those points.
As once source explained it, it’s possible that owners-only meetings will occur on a more regular basis moving forward. This would give Jones and others a chance to raise any and all ideas or concerns that they may have regarding a wide variety of topics and challenges facing the league.