The owner of the Dallas Cowboys soon will experience frontier justice, Big Shield style.
On Monday, Jerry Jones will testify under oath before Commissioner Roger Goodell in a proceeding aimed at determining whether and to what extent Jones and the Cowboys owe the NFL and its member clubs reimbursement for legal fees incurred in connection with his threatened litigation over Goodell’s new contract and running back Ezekiel Elliott‘s actual litigation over his six-game suspension.
Speaking with reporters who cover the Cowboys on Saturday, Jones expressed an idealistic — and arguably delusional — view of what the process will entail.
“A hearing before the Commissioner is like a courtroom,” Jones said, via the Dallas Morning News. “You separate the wheat from the chaff, and you get right into the facts as they are, and I welcome that.
“Looking forward to my time with him regarding both the issues of how we were involved or not involved in the Ezekiel Elliott issue as well as the issue of what we did or didn’t do relative to his contract negotiation. Those will be the subject areas, but the key thing is it’s really factual . . . you . . . address the facts. I know he wants to know that, and I want him to know what the facts are.”
That would be great, if the facts matter. But they don’t matter.
Well, they do matter, but only insofar as they need to be massaged and twisted and squished into fitting the predetermined narrative, which leads to the preselected outcome. That’s how it has gone in the past, from Bountygate to Spygate to the ruling Jones experienced six years ago, when the league decided that Dallas and Washington treated the uncapped year like (who knew?) an uncapped year, stripping them of millions in cap space.
That’s precisely what will happen to Jones now, especially because this entire proceeding supposedly was instigated not by Goodell but by influential owners who want to see Goodell whack Jones for being so disruptive last year. Whatever Jones says or does, Goodell likely will decide that threatening litigation in a way that causes the league and its member clubs to incur legal fees constitutes initiating a lawsuit within the confines of Resolution FC-6, and that whatever the Cowboys did in connection with Elliott’s cases constitutes “substantial assistance of” his litigation under that same provision.
It’s the kind of thing that Jones complained about when objecting to the Commissioner’s new contract. The league office has too much power, and the league office all too frequently uses that power to selectively utilize a smorgasbord of rules in order to justify doing whatever the league office wants to do.
In this case, the league office wants to punish Jones and to make an example of him, in an effort to warn other owners not to behave in similar ways in the future. Resolution FC-6 provides the league with a procedure for picking his pocket for $2 million-plus, thanks in large part to the Commissioner’s full and complete power over the process.
So, yes, the facts will come out on Monday. But those facts won’t change the fact that the appeal process is more of a rubber stamp than a blind search for the truth.