The NFL has given Jones an unambiguous message that it will vigorously defend itself against any legal maneuvers attempted to delay the extension of commissioner Roger Goodell’s contract, a source familiar with communications between the Dallas Cowboys owner and members of the compensation committee told Yahoo Sports.
The source said Jones was informed both in written communication and also verbally by at least one member of the committee that plans to extend Goodell are moving forward regardless of legal threat. However, the source declined to say whether the communications could be classified as “cease and desist” notices. The New York Times previously reported that Jones was sent a cease and desist letter from the compensation committee.
The source familiar with the communications within the committee said two concrete themes have emerged: That the NFL’s league office and compensation committee members have been galvanized by the perceived “bullying” attempts of Jones; and that the NFL’s “conduct detrimental to the league” threshold will be considered in some fashion if Jones significantly escalates the fight. What is unclear is how Jones would be penalized by his fellow owners if the situation spirals. It’s unthinkable that the NFL team owners would consider stripping the Cowboys from Jones – but a fine or forfeiture of draft picks could be in line with previous wrist-slaps delivered to owners.
NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart declined comment “at this point” when asked Tuesday if Jones’ current course of action falls under “conduct detrimental” and could stimulate some kind of sanctioning.
Whatever threats the league has made to Jones – overt or implied – he hasn’t softened his stance when speaking publicly. Speaking to the Cowboys’ flagship radio station on Tuesday, he said it was a “ridiculous” assertion that he could be forced out as Cowboys owner over the Goodell extension fight. He also questioned why the league was in such a hurry to extend Goodell’s contract with nearly 18 months left on the deal, adding that he believes more than half the league’s owners are interested in being part of the approval process.
“I speak to a lot of owners and I know them to be really supportive of the idea of being able to – on their part, see and guide and give input to the [compensation] committee,” Jones said. “Particularly the chairman, [Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank]. I have well over half this league that is very interested in not only being a part of what is negotiated [with Goodell] but having it come back to them for approval.”
The NFL continues to maintain that Goodell’s contract extension will be finalized “soon,” although a timeframe beyond that is unspecified.
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