Don Van Natta Jr.CloseESPN Senior Writer
- Member of three Pulitzer Prize-winning groups for nationwide, explanatory and public service journalism
- Author of three books, together with New York Times best-selling “First Off the Tee: Presidential Hackers, Duffers, and Cheaters from Taft to Bush”
- 24-year newspaper profession at The New York Times and Miami Herald
Seth WickershamCloseESPN Senior Writer
- Senior Writer for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine
- Joined ESPN The Magazine after graduating from the University of Missouri.
- Although he primarily covers the NFL, his badignments even have taken him to the Athens Olympics, the World Series, the NCAA event and the NHL and NBA playoffs.
Dallas Cowboys proprietor Jerry Jones has threatened to sue the National Football League if a contract extension for commissioner Roger Goodell is authorized by the league’s compensation committee, sources instructed Outside the Lines.
A group proprietor and a group govt instructed Outside the Lines that Jones has employed David Boies, the famed New York lawyer who represented Vice President Al Gore within the deadlocked 2000 presidential election — and who led the NFL’s courtroom case throughout a dispute over the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations. More not too long ago, Boies defended Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein towards badual badault allegations.
The Cowboys’ Jerry Jones was a number one voice amongst 17 NFL house owners on a convention name Thursday that mentioned the opportunity of halting commissioner Roger Goodell’s pending contract extension, sources concerned with the decision instructed ESPN.
Cowboys proprietor Jerry Jones has impeded the progress of contract negotiations aimed toward an extension for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, in response to sources conversant in the talks.
The New York Times first reported the event on Wednesday.
The sources instructed Outside the Lines that Jones has been exploring the lawsuit choice by Boies, if Goodell’s contract is prolonged after the 2018 season as is being thought of. Boies represents DraftKings, the day by day fantasy firm by which Jones was an early investor.
Jones has not recognized the grounds of such a lawsuit, however one supply mentioned Jones is exploring whether or not a requirement that two-thirds of householders should approve a commissioner’s contract may very well be elevated to three-fourths of householders. Another supply mentioned that Boies additionally could be requested by Jones to supply a report exhibiting the damaging financial influence that Goodell’s main selections, together with participant self-discipline, have had on golf equipment.
A lawyer who has shut ties to the NFL praised Boies’ talent as a lawyer to OTL however mentioned that his hiring was probably a “scare tactic” as a result of there would not look like an apparent authorized problem to Goodell’s contract negotiations, a course of that Jones voted in badist of earlier within the yr. Jones “probably knows he doesn’t have a strong claim,” the lawyer mentioned.
Neither Jones nor Boies may very well be instantly reached for remark. NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart declined remark.
The Times reported that Jones, in a convention name final week with the six house owners on the compensation committee, instructed them that authorized papers had been drawn up and could be served Friday if the committee didn’t scrap its plans to increase Goodell’s contract. The Times additionally reported that after Jones spoke to the committee, the house owners revoked Jones’ standing as an advert hoc member of the compensation committee after which spoke to the opposite 25 house owners who are usually not on the committee to inform them of what Jones had mentioned.
Sources instructed Outside the Lines that Jones is certainly one of “four or five owners” who consider Goodell shouldn’t proceed as commissioner. Another half-dozen house owners had been referred to as “fence-sitters” by one supply — the precise group that Jones needs Boies to focus on.
“If he ambades 12 or 15 people, how does Roger survive something like that?” an govt requested. “I don’t know how he’d be able to continue if that many owners express a lack of confidence in him.”
An individual who spoke not too long ago with Goodell mentioned the commissioner is “furious” about Jones’ and different house owners’ insistence that his subsequent contract’s compensation ought to be extra performance-based, together with incentives that may enable him to be paid at roughly the identical stage of his present deal. “He feels as if the owners have made a lot of money and he should be compensated accordingly,” the supply mentioned. “The incentives thing really angers him.”
Goodell has earned a complete of greater than $200 million since he was elected commissioner in August 2006, together with $44 million in 2014 and $34 million in 2015. At the house owners’ conferences in New York final month, Jones instructed his fellow house owners that Goodell’s proposed subsequent contract “is the most one-sided deal ever.”
Through this season, Jones has expressed rising dissatisfaction with Goodell’s job efficiency and has mentioned in current weeks that the league wants to rent a brand new commissioner, sources mentioned. The causes embrace Goodell’s dealing with of the participant protests staged in the course of the nationwide anthem; the league’s pending six-game suspension of Cowboys star operating again Ezekiel Elliott for violation of the league’s home violence coverage; and the league’s dealing with of the relocation of two groups to Los Angeles, which Jones helped engineer. Many house owners are additionally indignant with Goodell as a result of they consider that he has given Jones an excessive amount of energy.
“Most owners would admit that Roger has done a terrible job handling the anthem controversy and a terrible job explaining the [TV] ratings declines, a terrible job on any number of other issues,” a long-time group govt mentioned.
Several sources instructed Outside the Lines that house owners consider the NFL league workplace suffers from “dysfunction,” and at the least two house owners have mentioned they would not change Goodell as a result of they do not know who they’d change him with.
A silent majority of householders consider Goodell’s efficiency has been poor however nonetheless badist him as a result of they like to have Goodell lead the house owners’ facet in labor negotiations with the gamers’ union. The present collective bargaining settlement expires in 2021.
“Roger is seen as having done a great job in the labor negotiations last time — that fact alone saves him with some owners,” an govt mentioned.
Jones is just not a member of the NFL’s six-member compensation committee, led by Arthur Blank of the Falcons. Jones has referred to as himself the “ombudsman” of the committee and has turn into a de facto seventh unofficial member who attended a current convention name of the committee.
If Jones determined to comply with by together with his risk, it could be the second time he has sued the NFL. In the mid-1990s, Jones filed a $750 million antitrust lawsuit towards the NFL over its insistence that groups don’t enter into separate sponsorship agreements; Jones and the league later settled that declare.
Sources mentioned, although, that Jones has misplaced potential badist as a result of he has his personal candidate to exchange Goodell. Sources mentioned they didn’t know the id of the candidate.
“Then Jerry will be completely in control of the league,” one supply mentioned. “It’s turning off some owners.”
Another govt mentioned he believes that Jones’ insistence to inject himself into the method has elevated Goodell’s resolve to signal a long-term deal.
“Well, $45 million a year is a lot to just walk away from,” the manager mentioned.
Boies has come below criticism this week for serving to Weinstein use personal investigators in an try to dam a New York Times story about him whereas on the similar time Boies was representing the Times.
In April 2011, Boies represented the NFL in a St. Paul, Minnesota courtroom to current the NFL’s argument towards the gamers’ request for an injunction to cease the league’s lockout of its gamers.