Last time we checked in on this chapter of Jerry Jones vs. Roger Goodell, the commissioner was reportedly furious over the Dallas Cowboys owner’s efforts to undermine his contract negotiations by threatening to sue the league and fellow owners in order to stop them from re-upping Goodell. (This was sparked, of course, by Jones’s frustration with the commissioner over the suspension of Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, an ongoing saga and veritable shitshow of its own.)
Now, in a letter sent through his attorney, Jones has accused the league of misleading team owners on Goodell’s contract negotiations. The letter was sent to NFL counsel and distributed to owners and team execs yesterday, and portions are now public after it was obtained by ESPN. Jones maintains that he’s ready to sue: claiming that he “has discovered a number of very concerning issues” about the negotiations and has “been unquestionably misled” by league compensation committee chairman and Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank.
Blank removed Jones from his non-voting, ad-hoc role on the committee last weekend, after Jones first threatened to sue the league over Goodell’s contract. (The current contract runs through the end of 2018, and the proposed extension would run through 2024.) In yesterday’s letter, Jones accuses Blank of reneging on an original promise that the committee would be unanimous in whatever recommendation it made on Goodell’s contract. He also accuses Blank of misrepresenting a discretionary bonus portion of the proposed contract—saying that these bonuses had been described to Goodell as essentially guaranteed money, while team owners were told that they would be subject to review and contingent on the commissioner’s performance each year. Jones additionally maintains that the fact that team owners unanimously voted to let Blank’s committee handle the contract extension does not mean that the team owners have unanimously voted for the contract extension itself, and they will need to hold another vote to approve whatever the committee proposes.
Finally, he bemoans the state of the league—describing an “avalanche of issues that have beleaguered the NFL unlike any other time in recent memory,” such as the national anthem protests and declining television ratings—and notes that any contract extension for the commissioner shouldn’t be taken lightly. The letter states:
“Commissioner Goodell’s contract extension is a substantial commitment by the Owners, as more than $200 million is at stake, on top of the $200 million already paid to him. This is in addition to the unique and largely unfettered power exercised by the Commissioner. Ownership can’t have the Chairman let us down again.”
An NFL lawyer called Jones’s claims “without merit,” noting in particular that the idea of needing a separate ownership-wide vote to approve the committee’s proposal violates what’s stated in the league’s constitution.
Jones is unquestionably being quite petty here—but he’s clearly committed to it.