FRISCO, Texas — Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said the lawsuit he is considering filing against the NFL and other owners has nothing to do with how poorly he believes Ezekiel Elliott has been treated in the league’s investigation into domestic violence.
While not pleased that Elliott has been suspended for six games after the running back’s latest legal battle fell short, Jones’ bigger issue is with the negotiations over Roger Goodell’s new contract.
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“I basically feel this extension of Roger should go and be reviewed and approved by all the owners, not just a few of the owners,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas. “The committee that basically negotiates the salary with our commissioner is taking the view, especially the chairman, that they in a limited group can complete this agreement.
“I disagree. I think we should, with all of the interest and commitment that you have throughout the ownership … this is simply about making sure that all clubs have input into … the commissioner, his extension, but also in future years, his decisions. We all see how impactful a commissioner’s decision can be in many areas. We’ve given him a lot of power. I think we need the checks and balances of ownership having to actually be in a position to not just suggest but approve of his decisions. So that’s what this is about.”
“Every owner should be able to have, relative to the commissioner’s pay, the discretion of hiring him or not hiring him. Every owner should shake his hand and look him in the eye.”
Jerry Jones, Cowboys owner
Jones said his feelings about the Elliott decision are separate from those concerning the Goodell negotiations.
“The facts are, the issues that involve the commissioner are far more reaching,” Jones told the Cowboys’ flagship network. “I’ve been dealing with this commissioner for almost 28 years, as an employee of the NFL. Zeke’s been involved here a year, a year and a half. Those are really separate issues as to Zeke. The policy that we have that has impacted Zeke is more of my issue with the commissioner, moreso than Zeke’s particular circumstance.”
Elliott has a chance to regain eligibility at a Dec. 1 appeal hearing for a preliminary injunction in front of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Without the injunction, Elliott will not be in uniform again until Dec. 24 against the Seattle Seahawks.
Jones has consistently supported Elliott since the domestic violence charges were brought to light in the summer of 2016. He said during training camp that he did not expect Elliott to be suspended and that there was no domestic violence involved.
“I’m disappointed when he’s not going to play,” Jones said. “It’s what it is. That’s not being resolute. It’s just simply, it’s what it is. I really fervently disagree that we shouldn’t have him on the playing field.”
Jones does not believe the NFL should supersede legal authorities. Elliott was not charged by Columbus, Ohio, authorities because of inconsistent testimony and evidence.
Per the NFL’s personal conduct policy, a player does not need to be punished by the law to face discipline from the league.
“I’d like to completely take this commissioner’s name out of my response,” Jones said. “To a large degree, it’s not about Roger Goodell. It’s about the power of the commissioner as it relates to ownership. To the extent that the ownership hires him, extends him, pays him on an ongoing basis, the ownership should have firsthand approval. Each owner should approve that.
“There’s an old adage, for instance, in politics that, if you’re going to give a candidate some money, you shouldn’t have that done by somebody in between you and the candidate — by some kind of intermediary. You should hand him the money and look him straight in the eye so he knows you did it. And consequently, every owner should be able to have, relative to the commissioner’s pay, the discretion of hiring him or not hiring him. Every owner should shake his hand and look him in the eye.”