The NFL could be in the verge of major internal conflict as Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has set his sights on Commissioner Roger Goodell, ESPN reported on Friday.
The discord between Jones and Goodell had been brewing under the surface for some time, but came to a head after Goodell called Jones in August to say he was going to suspend Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott this season for six games.
The suspension stemmed from a domestic abuse case.
The conference call came after Goodell had reportedly told Jones that Elliott would not be suspended by the NFL after a lengthy investigation.
Jones had already signed off Goodell’s extension with the belief Elliott would be on the field, and was furious with the commissioner.
According to Wickersham's and Van Natta’s sources, Jones told Goodell over the phone, "I'm gonna come after you with everything I have. If you think Bob Kraft came after you hard, Bob Kraft is a p---y compared to what I'm going to do."
Jones was referencing the “deflategate” investigation that led to the four-game suspension of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady last season.
Elliott’s suspension was apparently the final straw, but the article cited other issues Jones had with Goodell, including the league’s response to the players protesting the national anthem, the drop in TV ratings and the commissioner’s disciplinary power.
Jones is not alone in his belief that Goodell has mishandled several of the league’s issues.
The report said other owners side with Jones and have questioned league executives and its leadership.
Earlier this month, Jones threatened to sue his fellow owners and the league to stop progress on Goodell’s contract extension, which would be for five more years and pay him more than the $42 million annual salary he currently receives.
That caused a rift between Jones and other owners, primarily Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, who remains on Goodell’s side.
Roger Goodell has a Jerry Jones problem, and nobody knows how it will end.@DVNJr and @SethWickersham examine the now-fractured relationship between two of the NFL's key players. https://t.co/P5TgE69Uvk— ESPN (@espn) November 17, 2017
The Cowboys played the Falcons last Sunday, and Jones and Blank did not meet before the game as is customary between NFL owners.
It was also the first game of Elliott’s suspension and the tipping point of what could be a contentious road ahead for the NFL and its powers.