As the public spat between Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and his partners over Commissioner Roger Goodell’s contract extension dies down (for now), the battle continues privately, via correspondence written by high-priced lawyers.
Via Ken Belson of the New York Times, Jones received a letter from fellow owners advising him that his “antics” amount to “conduct detrimental to the league’s best interests.” The letter specifically was addressed to lawyer David Boies, whom Jones hired to consider potential litigation.
It’s a classic sign of creating a record that would eventually justify action to be taken against Jones. By reducing warnings to clear, unambiguous writings, there can be no doubt that Jones knew the consequences of ongoing misconduct, if it continues.
The league, PFT has been told multiple times, has no quarrel with Jones’ position regarding Goodell’s contract. However, the other owners object to the manner in which he has addressed the issue, taking it public, leaking damaging (and perhaps false) information to the media, instigating Papa John’s to disparage NFL leadership, and threatening to sue the league and its teams.
Owners previously have warned Jones that fines, forfeiture of draft picks, and a suspension could occur if the behavior doesn’t end. PFT reported over the weekend that multiple owners have discussed a provision in Article VIII of the NFL’s Constitution & Bylaws that allows a franchise to be forfeited in the event of conduct detrimental to the league. While the chances of that happening remain remote, the question of whether an effort ever commences depends directly on whether Jones complies with the expectations of his partners.