Jerry Jones’ Trump Tactics are Revealing More of the Dark Side of the NFL

New Orleans  The public rarely gets a good inside view of rich people’s world, but thanks to the Jerry Jones, owner and chief potentate of the Dallas Cowboys, formerly known as America’s Team, we’re all being shown a vivid display of a real time reality show that turns out to be a plain and simple horror movie. The 32 super rich owners of teams in the National Football League (NFL) are arguably one of the most exclusive rich folks clubs in the country. Thanks to Jerry Jones, we can now confirm that their operations are so tone deaf to what’s happening in America to its people and their lives that they are virtually alien beings.

Full disclosure. The New Orleans Saints are on a roll with seven consecutive wins and knocking on the door to win their eight and have become a contender this season. Having never paid much attention to Jerry Jones, his bullying and illegal coercion of his players until the national anthem controversy forced Local 100 United Labor Unions to step in and file charges against his threats with the National Labor Relations Board, so now we follow him more closely to make sure he toes the line.

Turns out that he’s not only a bully to his players and something of a Simon Legree employer, but a “my way or the highway,” wannabe-bully with his fellow rich club owners, as well as bad loser, bad sport, and Trumpian pretender and reality shapeshifter. In a precious irony, he is also making his own team an object of pity, rather than pride, and destroying its brand throughout the country.

His star running back, Ezekiel Elliott, got caught up in a domestic abuse mess, and the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who has been largely an empty suit and a poster boy for missteps in handling domestic abuse in the past, stepped up and suspended Elliott for six games for his actions. Courts have upheld the suspensions, and Elliott has dropped his own appeals and served the first game of his suspension already. Jones though wants a special standard for the Cowboys and his star’s behavior and after having been part of a unanimous vote for an extension of Goodell’s contract and advocate of some of the incentives for his pay, has become the fly in the ointment. His threats to sue the league got him booted off the compensation committee where he had been a nonvoting member and threatened with censure. He has masked his pique around Elliott’s suspension by claiming Goodell’s contract should be held up because of recent problems with decreased fan support for the league and the anthem mess, but Jones now only sounds like Trump trying to blame Clinton because he doesn’t want to deal with his Russian problem.

In a pure move modeled after his buddy, Trump, he has now gotten into a letter writing war with the other owners by claiming they agreed to an all-owners vote to review Goodell’s extension, while the committee has responded saying there is no such agreement and that the owners have already voted for the renewal. Jones also leveraged his 100 pizza franchises into a pizza war claiming that advertisers were losing money on the anthem controversy and allowing the other pizza companies to make fun of him by citing their soaring sales.

Additionally, and perhaps more revealing, Jones has now told ESPN according to the Times, “that Goodell had promised him that Elliott would not be suspended for his involvement in a domestic abuse case,” although Goodell’s spokespeople said there was no such commitment, so “when Goodell then suspended Elliott, Jones told colleagues he would seek revenge, the article said.” What a piece of work this guy is! The owners have threatened him with sanctions. They might should consider putting the team up for sale while it still has any fans outside of Dallas.

Meanwhile the terms of Goodell’s $30 to $40 million per year contract and extension for the nonprofit and Congressionally favored NFL have become grist for the mill at the same time as the reports of the NFL’s miserly record in meeting the terms of their $1 billion settlement over the effects of concussions on its players has also become public. Only 140 of 1400 claims have been honored, and most of those claims have not been fully paid. Parents are increasingly not allowing their children to play football, and efforts to offset the crisis are weak kneed. Football is being pushed from a popular sport to a place alongside guns, sexism, and red state politics, which will marginalize it, if not kill it, in the future.

The NFL might have better prospects with Jones just selling pizzas or whatever and Roger Goodell finding another job somewhere outside of football. But in a country reeling with division and inequity, watching the way billionaires and millionaires pad their own paychecks and ignore the issues of the day in their exclusive club, could also kill what’s left of its public support, as the fans realize it’s just about them, and never about us.

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Local 100 Puts Cowboys Owner Jones on Notice While Withdrawing NLRB Charge

New Orleans  Local 100 United Labor Unions notified NLRB Region 16 that it was withdrawing the charge filed over two weeks ago over threats made by Dallas Cowboy’s owner, Jerry Jones, to “bench” his players of they protested during the national anthem.

In a press release describing its action, Local 100 said the following about the situation:

…withdrawing its NLRB charges at this time, Local 100 did so because the National Football League after meeting with the owners and players has ruled that there will be no discipline of players for utilizing their “platform” and protesting the societal situation of racial injustice and police brutality that is impacting their working conditions and lives. Furthermore, the NFL committed to continued dialogue about these situations and taking positive, though unnamed steps, to address them in the larger community. NLRB rules allow the union to refile these charges at any time.

Since the filing of Local 100’s charges, Jones has not repeated the threats against the players that were the subject of the charges. United Labor Unions’ Chief Organizer, Wade Rathke said, “If Jerry Jones threatens or disciplines any players of the Dallas Cowboys despite the clear position of the NFL and others, we will immediately refile these charges with the NLRB and pursue them to their conclusion. We are hopeful that Jones has learned that there are legal limits that guide his treatment of his workforce and rights that cannot be abridged, regardless of his own personal opinion. We will continue to monitor this closely. We hope a lesson was learned, and that we had some small impact on this debate, and the actions of the NFL doing the right thing.”

Has Jones really learned his lesson? We hope so, but we doubt it. We believe in fact that it is more likely that a combination of our action emboldening his own lawyers to tell him he was across the line and to shut up, the NFL overlords telling him his position was untenable and he needed to back up, and the anger of his own players at his bullying all forced him in retreat. As cbssports.com reported among many others, “Cowboys players were reportedly angered by Jones’ public hard-line stance, and the team had a meeting with Jones about it during the bye week.” There were no public comments, but privately it was well-known that players told Jones he was out of line.

The final straw convincing the union that it was best to withdraw for now and leave the matter hanging became clear after Jones’ vacillating in reaction to defensive tackle David Irving raising his fist after anthem in the last game. Jones tried to walk the line saying as long as it was not during the anthem, no problem. Jones again was exposed as “all talk, no cattle.” Or, as The Nation’s David Zirin has written, “… the fact Jerry Jones now has to smile his way through it is just another sign of how much ground the owners lost and how much of their own humanity the players have reclaimed.”

And, besides reclaiming their “humanity,” the players have also learned the power of their labor rights both under the NLRA and their own contract, which the NFLPA shrewdly enforced in the meeting with the owners. As Local 100’s statement said as well, we were

…also glad that … [our] action in stepping in to file charges against Jones and Cowboys for their treatment of their players ignited a national debate about the rights and entitlements the players had as workers under the National Labor Relations Act. Lawyers, professors, and others have joined the debate in newspapers, blogs, and websites on the question with the preponderance of them supporting Local 100’s standing to file and the fact that the union drew attention to the role of the NLRA in protecting workers’ rights in these situations. The union is hoping that its action will prompt other workers caught in difficult situations in their jobs, too often unrepresented, to understand the law and take advantage of its provisions to protection themselves and exercise their rights.

This clearly isn’t over. The protests, though diminished, continue. And so does the debate, and that’s a good thing for the players, the cause, and workers and their communities everywhere.

Professor Tim Wu, free speech, computer expert, and occasionally columnist for the New York Times threw another brick at the window, this time at the White House, which was pulling the strings on the Cowboys’ Jones, saying...

…the White House needs to be held accountable when it tries to use private parties to circumvent First Amendment protections. When it encourages others to punish its critics — as when it demanded that the N.F.L., on pain of tax penalties, censor players — it is wielding state power to punish disfavored speech. There is precedent for such abuses to be challenged in court.

The fat lady won’t sing on this one until victory is complete. There will be many test questions in the future for Jerry Jones and his ilk on the lessons they are being forced to learn now.

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