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.