What's the old saying? Come at the king, you best not miss? That's it, right?
It's actually an open debate as to who the most powerful person is in the NFL right now. Roger Goodell is the commissioner, yes, but many insist Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is actually the commissioner. After all, it was reportedly Jones, and not Goodell, who orchestrated the Rams' move from St. Louis to Los Angeles and the Raiders' impending move from Oakland to Las Vegas. If you have the power to change where the mountains stand and how the rivers run on the NFL map, isn't that the ultimate power?
After Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was slapped with a 6-game suspension by Goodell last year, Jones came at Goodell in a public way. First of all, Jones took Elliott's appeal as far as it could go, dragging the story through the offseason and into Week 10 of the 2017 season. Goodell eventually won that fight, though, as Elliott served his six games over the second half of last season.
So Jones started another fight, hiring lawyer David Boies (who has previously represented the NFL) to challenge Goodell's impending contract extension. When it became apparent that didn't work, Jones threatened to sue the six members of the NFL's compensation committee -- six of his fellow owners.
That didn't work, either. Goodell got his contract, a 5-year deal that could pay him up to $200 million.
Jones came at the king, and he missed.
And according to the New York Times, Goodell is going to take his pound of flesh for Jones's public challenges of his power, reportedly planning to fine the Cowboys owner upwards of millions of dollars to reimburse the league's costs for defending itself in court against Jones.
From the Times:
The punishment will be issued in the coming weeks by Goodell, who will declare that Jones’s actions were detrimental to the league, which rarely shows such acute signs of acrimony among owners and the commissioner’s office. Goodell has been reluctant to be seen as exacting retribution for the way Jones tried to sabotage his contract talks, but he was urged to bring the penalties by several owners who believed that Jones had crossed an unspoken boundary by threatening his colleagues.
Jones's power comes from the force of his reputation and the strength of the Cowboys' brand. Heck, Jones's and the Cowboys' brand is so strong that Jerry The GM can spend 25 years unsuccessfully meddling with the Cowboys' on-field product and yet the Cowboys are still as relevant as any of the league's 32 franchises.
But Goodell's power comes from the fact that he works for all the other NFL owners. And as long as Goodell's coalition is bigger than Jones's, Goodell will wear the crown.
Update> Ian Rapoport, whose paycheck likely has Roger Goodell's name pre-printed on it, reports this afternoon that Goodell won't be fining Jones; but rather simply seeking reimbursement of costs Jones forced the league to incur. Alrighty then....
Tuesday Update> Jerry says, oh hell nah...