2017-11-08 15:38:03
Jerry Jones Is Said to Hire David Boies to Block Roger Goodell’s Contract

15:38, November 08 258 0

Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys and one of the N.F.L.’s most powerful figures, has escalated his feud with Commissioner Roger Goodell, threatening to sue the league and some fellow team owners over negotiations to extend Goodell’s contract, according to two people with direct knowledge of the situation.

Jones told the six owners on the league’s compensation committee last week that he had hired David Boies, the high-profile lawyer under fire in the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment case, according to the people, who declined to be speak publicly about internal league matters.

The dispute between Jones and Goodell stems from Jones’s anger over the commissioner’s suspending of Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys’ star running back, who was accused of domestic violence by his former girlfriend. Goodell gave Elliott a six-game suspension, though no charges were filed in the case.

The suspension, announced in August, has since undergone a dizzying array of rulings and court appeals that has, for now, kept Elliott on the field. Jones has called the suspension an “overcorrection,” a jibe at Goodell, who has been criticized in recent years for his handling of player discipline.

The intraleague battle is unusual for a organization that prides itself on order and unanimity but is in the middle of one of its most tumultuous seasons over issues like players kneeling during the national anthem to protest social injustice, a wave of injuries to star players, and a television ratings slide that has fed debate over whether the game is declining.

Jones said in a conference call last Thursday with the six owners — those of the Chiefs, Falcons, Giants, Patriots, Steelers and Texans — that legal papers were drawn up and would be served this Friday if the committee did not scrap its plans to extend Goodell’s contract.

As of Wednesday, the owners have not been sued.

Through a team spokesman, Jones declined to comment. An N.F.L. spokesman did not have an immediate response, and a spokesman for Boies’s law firm did not immediately return calls either.

Jones has been a nonvoting member of a committee of owners that is considering Goodell’s contract, which expires at the end of the 2018 season. Jones has fought to have a say.

After Jones spoke to the committee by conference call last week, the six owners revoked Jones’s status as an ad hoc member of the compensation committee, which decides on compensation packages for the top league officials.

Over the next several days, the six owners then spoke to the other 25 owners who are not on the committee to notify them of what Jones had said.

Jones, known for brassy talk and bold moves, may be making his most audacious maneuver yet in taking on fellow owners, with whom he normally holds considerable sway in matters like the relocation of teams and how the league spends its money.

Jones’s threat is reminiscent of steps taken by Raiders owner Al Davis, who successfully sued to the league in the 1980s to win the right to move his team from Oakland to Los Angeles.

But Jones’s case is potentially more volatile because he has threatened to sue not just the league, but individual owners, while also trying to prevent the commissioner from getting a new contract.

Boies is a prominent lawyer who has argued before the Supreme Court and represented corporations and executives in high-profile cases.

He drew widespread criticism this week after The New Yorker reported on the legal work Boies did for Weinstein, the movie mogul facing allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault. The article reported that Boies helped Weinstein’s effort to use private investigators to help block a negative article about him in The New York Times while Boies’s firm was providing outside legal counsel for The Times.

Boies denied there was any conflict of interest with his work for the newspaper. In a statement, he said he believed the investigators had been hired solely to determine the facts related to the accusations against Weinstein, which Boies believed would be to The Times’s benefit.

The Times said it was ending its relationship with his firm.

“We never contemplated that the law firm would contract with an intelligence firm to conduct a secret spying operation aimed at our reporting and our reporters,” The Times said in a statement. “Such an operation is reprehensible.”

Jones has publicly questioned Elliott’s suspension as well as the commissioner’s role in handing down player penalties.

“Zeke is a victim of an overcorrection,” Jones said in a radio interview in October, a day after Elliott lost his bid for a preliminary injunction that would have stayed the six-game ban for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.

“Even this judge said it shows that very reasonably people could possibly come down on both sides of this,” Jones added. “Well, under our legal system it has to be stronger than that for someone to have done it. Now, we all know we were not there to see it, but I do have every point of contention on both sides and in our system in this country, Zeke would not have any issue here as to his workplace.

“With the knowledge that I have, the circumstances aren’t treating him fair.”

Jones has also been the most vocal owner to urge players to stand for the national anthem. Jones and other owners are upset that Goodell has not done more to stop players from kneeling or sitting during the anthem. The issue exploded into a national debate when President Trump took aim the owners for not forcing the players to stand.