On Tuesday, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones addressed the growing crop of rumors that have sprung up in the midst of his fight against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, dismissing claims that his fellow owners are considering harsh punishments against Jones and the Cowboys.
"I've had not one, not one, inkling of communication from the league office or any owner that would suggest something that laughable and ridiculous, and that's about where that is," Jones said during his weekly radio show on radio station 105.3 The Fan. "If somebody is asserting that, then they are not knowledgeable about how things work in the NFL."
Jones' comments followed a series of reports Monday and over the weekend in which unnamed sources told The New York Times and The Washington Post that several NFL owners are pushing the league to punish Jones if he continues his attempt to hold up Goodell's contract extension. Potential penalties, according to the Post, include a fine, loss of a draft pick or picks for the Cowboys, or a suspension for Jones.
The website Pro Football Talk published another anonymously sourced story Monday, taking things a step further and reporting that the NFL could consider forcing Jones to sell the Cowboys, the so-called "nuclear option" provided in the league's bylaws to deal with owners accused of acting outside the NFL's best interests.
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The behind-the-scenes sniping is tied to Jones' threat to sue to his fellow owners if the contract extension for Goodell being finalized by the NFL's compensation committee isn't put in front of the league's 32 owners for a vote. In May, NFL owners voted 32-0 to allow the committee, made up of the owners of the Chiefs, Falcons, Giants, Patriots, Steelers and Texans, to negotiate the contract on their behalf.
Recently, Jones has pushed back against giving Goodell an extension to his contract, which expires in 18 months. Cowboys officials say Jones wants to ensure a transparent process during a difficult time for the league, not because he is mad about Goodell's decision to suspend Ezekiel Elliott for six games regarding domestic violence allegations made by Elliott's ex-girlfriend. Jones has retained attorney David Boies to challenge Goodell's extension in court, if necessary.
"We're not against Roger [Goodell]. We just don't know if this is the time to be talking about major contract extensions when the league certainly has several challenges in terms of where we are as a league, whether that's our ratings, whether that's our concerns with our sponsors," Stephen Jones, the Cowboys' executive vice president, said on his own show Monday on The Fan.
According to the Post report, Jones could be punished because of his relationship with one of those sponsors — if the league can connect the Cowboys owner to comments made by Papa John's CEO John Schnatter about the way the NFL's handling of player protests during the national anthem has negatively affected his pizza business. Jones owns more than 100 Papa John's franchises.