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Jerry Jones hires lawyer to sue NFL if Roger Goodell gets contract extension

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has reportedly made his beef with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell official by hiring lawyer David Boies and threatening to sue the league over Goodell’s contract extension.

Boies has represented a number of high profile celebrities and politicians; including Al Gore during the 2000 presidential election deadlock, the NFL itself over 2011 collective bargaining agreement, and under-fire Hollywood executive and sexual predator Harvey Weinstein.

According to the New York Times and ESPN’s Outside the Lines, Jones is exploring legal avenues to unseat Goodell should his contract extension be ratified after the season:

“Jones has not identified the grounds of such a lawsuit, but one source said Jones is exploring whether a requirement that two-thirds of owners must approve a commissioner’s contract could be increased to three-fourths of owners. Another source said that Boies also might be asked by Jones to produce a report showing the negative economic impact that Goodell’s major decisions, including player discipline, have had on clubs.”

Jones’ beef with Goodell is twofold between the Ezekiel Elliot suspension and player protest. Jones is upset at how Goodell has handled Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension for a domestic violence incident last summer. No charges were filed but Ezekiel Elliott was suspended 6 games by the league, against the recommendation of the NFL’s own legal reps.

Elliott’s case has travelled through numerous court systems, dragging on throughout the season. As of writing, Elliott is still active and has yet to sit out a game.

According to OTL, at an earlier meeting in May, NFL owners unanimously voted to extend Goodell’s contract, but Jones began to waver after the Elliott suspension,

“At a meeting in May, all 32 owners — including Jones — voted to extend Goodell’s contract and authorized the compensation committee to work out the details. But after Elliott was suspended, Jones began lobbying the committee to undermine the deal.”

Jones and other owners are also upset with Goodell’s handling of player protest. Jones has been outspoken over the issue, which has gone beyond the scope of the NFL and become a social and political topic in recent weeks.

An anonymous team executive told ESPN that while most owners are fine with extending Goodell, there is growing discontent with the NFL commissioner over TV ratings and player protest,

“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.”

And another executive said that if Jones can rally support around getting rid of Goodell, the commissioner may be in trouble,

“If he amasses 12 or 15 people, how does Roger survive something like that? I don’t know how he’d be able to continue if that many owners express a lack of confidence in him.”

But most NFL owners, while recognizing that Goodell has failed in a variety of capacities, know that the commissioner was crucial in negotiating an owner-friendly collective bargaining agreement with the players’ union back in 2011. ESPN reported,

“A silent majority of owners believe Goodell’s performance has been poor but still support him because they prefer to have Goodell lead the owners’ side in labor negotiations with the players’ union. The current collective bargaining agreement expires in 2021.”

As you could probably imagine, Roger Goodell is not too happy about this whole thing. ESPN quoted someone who recently spoke to the commissioner and described the Ginger Hammer as being ‘furious,’ especially over a proposed incentivized contract:

“A person who spoke recently with Goodell said the commissioner is ‘furious’ about Jones’ and other owners’ insistence that his next contract’s compensation should be more performance-based, including incentives that would allow him to be paid at roughly the same level of his current deal. ‘He feels as if the owners have made a lot of money and he should be compensated accordingly,’ the source said. ‘The incentives thing really angers him.'”

The NFL sure knows how to make a controversy where everyone involved totally sucks.

It’s hard to feel bad for Roger Goodell, a man that has made more than $200 million as NFL commissioner. It’s also impossible to empathize with Jerry Jones, who ordered his players to stand during the national anthem after Jones spoke to Donald Trump.

There is a certain schadenfreude in watching a bunch old white billionaires get mad at each other, so in that sense this is all quite entertaining.

Keep the beef rollin’.

The NFL’s Ezekiel Elliott domestic violence investigation is an absolute mess

Earlier this month, the NFL suspended Dallas Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott for 6 games after finding “substantial and persuasive evidence that [Elliott] engaged in physical violence” against his ex-girlfriend in July of 2016.

Now, as Elliott appeals his suspension, the details of the case, the process the NFL took, and the legal grounds for his suspension, are beginning to look a little murky.

With a hard deadline set for arbitrator Harold Henderson to make a ruling on Elliott’s appeal by Monday, Elliott’s chances of overturning his suspension or an eventual victory in Federal Court were improved during the hearings, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

The biggest issue with the NFL’s investigation is the revelation that Kia Roberts, director of investigations for the NFL, reportedly recommended no suspension for Elliott after examining the evidence and speaking to Elliott’s former girlfriend Tiffany Thompson.

From the Star-Telegram:

“Roberts recommended no suspension for Elliott following her interviews with Thompson during the investigation — a fact Roberts testified to during the appeals hearing with Henderson, according to a source.”

The Star Telegram further reports that following Roberts’ recommendation of no suspension, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell excluded her from the final meeting to determine the Elliott ruling.

Elliott’s lawyers harped on this detail, as it was a clear departure from the process of the investigation. Excluding the lead investigator from the meeting to determine Elliott’s suspension is clearly an odd way to get the right result.

From the Star-Telegram:

“Elliott and the NFLPA attacked Roberts’ absence as a process failure during the appeal hearing and plan to exploit it if they go to federal court to seek a temporary injunction against a suspension.

“That Roberts’ recommendation didn’t make it into the report and that she wasn’t involved in the decision could be used against the NFL if a federal court case is pursued.”

Yikes. This whole thing is unfortunate.

It sure looks like the NFL is heading towards Deflategate 2.0 where they take one of the league’s star players to Federal Court over a suspension with questionable legal grounds.

The obvious difference between this ordeal and Deflategate is that this isn’t about deflated balls, these are allegations of domestic violence against Elliott, which are obviously much more serious.

This investigation lasted over 13 months from back in the summer of 2016 when Thompson accused Elliott of domestic violence over social media, but charges were never filed. From Deadspin:

Thompson first accused him of domestic abuse with social media photos of her bruised body last July. The Columbus, Ohio, police department declined to press charges, citing ‘conflicting and inconsistent information across all incidents resulting in concern regarding the sufficiency of the evidence.’ One witness told prosecutors that Thompson had asked her to lie to police about the alleged assault and provided text messages that appeared to show as much.”

Man, this is ugly.

We’ll know by Monday whether Elliott’s suspension is upheld or not, but it seems like that will only be the beginning of a longer protracted legal battle between the star running back and the NFL.

No matter what, there are no winners here.