IRVING, Texas — NFL owners will convene for their annual December meetings on Wednesday against a dramatically different backdrop than had been expected just a few days ago.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had engaged in weeks of saber-rattling about commissioner Roger Goodell’s contract extension, and he had hoped to bring the matter to a head at this gathering. Instead, a group of Jones’ fellow owners did an end-around and last week concluded negotiations on a five-year extension for Goodell reportedly worth an estimated $200 million.
Jones had said as recently as last Tuesday that he didn’t expect any deal would be finalized before Wednesday’s meeting, but the NFL’s compensation committee had already been putting the finishing touches on Goodell’s deal. The fact that he has since signed the contract has rendered Jones powerless and short-circuited any attempt at holding up the deal.
Jones has been unusually quiet since the deal was completed, and he didn’t speak to reporters after the Cowboys’ 30-10 win over the Giants on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. He is expected to at least raise concerns about Goodell’s deal to his fellow owners, and he will likely address reporters for the first time since the contract was signed.
Jones said during his weekly radio interview last week that he has never felt “better about the future of the league. I really think that relative to how we make decisions, some of the things that we need to address, no organization is immune from needing to make some changes and addressing some things in different ways. That’s just part of going forward. I feel real good about doing all that. We’ve got a lot of pluses in my mind. Frankly, I’ve never been in this league when I feel better about its future. And I mean that.”
League owners, including Jones, had unanimously approved the compensation committee’s authority to negotiate an extension with Goodell, who has been the commissioner since replacing Paul Tagliabue in 2006. Under his watch, the NFL has more than doubled its revenues to more than $13 billion.
But controversy over Goodell’s handling of player protests during the national anthem and his controversial disciplinary measures have drawn criticism. And Jones was angry that Goodell suspended Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott six games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy in connection with an alleged case of domestic violence in 2016. Elliott initially fought the suspension through the courts, but the NFL successfully appealed and prompted Elliott to give up his legal fight and serve the suspension. He is eligible to return on Dec. 24 against the Seahawks.