The Dallas Cowboys and the NFL somehow have avoided widespread scrutiny for a voyeurism scandal that resulted in a $2.4 million settlement with four cheerleaders who were allegedly videotaped while changing clothes in 2015, but that also ended with a conclusion by the team that no wrongdoing had occurred.
In such situations, the best approach from a P.R. perspective would be to say and do nothing. However, team owner Jerry Jones opted to address the situation in a sit-down interview with Meredith Land of NBC DFW. Here’s how Jones explained the decision to settle, given that the team concluded there was no reason to believe that anything had occurred for which a settlement would be required.
“First of all, the cheerleaders are an iconic, a vital part of what our organization is, the Dallas Cowboys, and so we took these allegations very seriously,” Jones told Land. “We immediately began a look-see, an investigation into the situation. I can assure you that had we found that it need be, there would have been firings, or there would have been suspension. As it turns out, in the best interest of our cheerleaders, in the best interest of the organization, in the best interest of our fans, what we decided to do was show the cheerleaders how seriously we took these allegations, and we wanted them to know that we were real serious and so the settlement was the way to go.”
Land prefaced her question to Jones by acknowledging that he can’t say much due to the non-disclosure agreement contained in the settlement. Obviously, however, the NDA is something he and the team wanted. He and the team could waive the NDA, if he and the team so desired.
Moreover, Jones’s comments arguably breached the NDA, because most provisions of that nature strictly limit any public comments to something along the lines of “the matter has been resolved” or even “no comment.”
So why did Jones speak? There has been very little national discussion about the situation in the nine days since the ESPN.com report first emerged. It’s stunning, frankly, that more hasn’t been made of contentions that, if true, are among the most troubling made against any team executive in recent years. If not true, why would Jones and the Cowboys have paid so much money to resolve them?
Complicating the situation is the fact that the league has decided to do nothing about it. Even though the Commissioner said one week before the report surfaced that (in reference to new allegations against Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder) a team can’t investigate itself, the NFL was content to let the Cowboys investigate the allegations against former P.R. executive and Jones confidant Rich Dalrymple — even though obvious questions still linger, including most notably whether Dalrymple was acting alone or at the behest or cajoling of someone else.
The question now becomes whether the comments from Jones will trigger more questions about the situation. Frankly, it’s overdue.