So it would seem Roger Goodell has his new paper and almost three whole weeks before Christmas, Jerry Jones’ stocking is full of coal.
More importantly just over a week before the owners were scheduled to convene and Jones hoped to exact some revenge against Goodell for grounding his prized running back, a significant majority of his fellow owners made sure all he’d see on the agenda at next week’s meetings is a big middle finger.
Make no mistake about what happened here.
The NFL is almost certainly the most exclusive rich guys – and gals – club in the world and there are next to no pikers or pushovers at the table when the whole gang gets together.
The truth is Jones is more new money, a bully and a little too fond of himself for some of his more accomplished compadres’ tastes.
While they may be fine with his preening around and hogging the camera when he’s making them all a few extra bucks beating up vendors, taking sponsors to the cleaners and getting them all a bigger share of the players’ hard-earned dollars, they can get a little testy when he embarrasses them all trying to settle a personal score against the leader and most trusted of all their serfs in public by airing some issues they’d rather stayed behind closed doors.
Clearly the main incentive for NFL owners to get this done was to have Goodell in place to lead their charge in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Both the sporting world and titans of industry were stunned the last time around that Goodell and his bosses wrangled a 10-year deal that seemed like forever at the time, and that they were able to out maneuver labor in basically every aspect of the deal, crushing them in many.
Suddenly there are only three years left in forever and before a new deal has to be negotiated, and the time for both sides to start staking out their ground is now.
Were the timing on that deal different, Goodell might not have his new contract now.
The players will be looking to reclaim some of the revenue their Executive Director, DeMaurice Smith, gave back to the owners in the last negotiation. They'll want a strong voice in how player discipline is handled and the flat-out removal of Goodell as judge, jury and executioner as well as assurances that their health care will be taken care of long after they leave the game along with additional compensation for players who end up disabled physically, mentally or both.
The owners will be looking to keep more revenue rather than giving any back and to use the players to generate more revenue by playing more games.
The players will be huge underdogs as they always are in these things because with an average career of less than four years, threats of work stoppages and strikes ring hollow when the players can only stay away for so long before they have to start cashing checks again.
The bigger issue for Goodell right now is what will come between now and then with the league having immediate needs in shoring up flagging TV ratings, dealing with player protests during the national anthem, making the game safer and the slow deterioration of its officiating as ambiguous rules aimed at making the game safer make it harder and harder to call.
It may be hard for Goodell to garner unanimous consent from the 32 teams on suggestions in any of those areas, and he has to know Jones will now be lying in the weeds to try and sabotage his efforts.
Goodell clearly won this round, but if we’ve learned anything about Jones, this isn’t close to over. It will be fascinating to see how the “other 31” keep the Jones vs. Goodell sideshow from doing further damage to the game, while trying to fix it all at the same time.