In the letter, which repeatedly criticized the committee chairman, the Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, Jones demanded that all owners, not just the committee members, vote on the pay package.
The Cowboys’ lawyer, Jason Cohen, wrote that Jones did not want to resort to legal action, but said it might be necessary to stop the committee’s work.
“Accordingly, Jerry Jones will continue to exercise his right to protect himself and the owners from the Committee Chairman’s undertaking of a substantial financial commitment on behalf of the NFL without the owners’ vote,” Cohen wrote.
A letter written on behalf of the compensation committee, which includes Blank as well as the owners of the Chiefs, Giants, Patriots, Steelers and Texans, brushed aside Jones’s claims and said his call for a full vote on the details of the contract was “contrary to the League’s operation practices.”
“Indeed, your description of the proposed extension is so at odds with the actual facts that we can only conclude that you are either uninformed or seek deliberately to mislead the other owners,” stated the letter, which was sent Thursday.
Goodell’s contract extension, which has been in the works for about six months, has turned into an embarrassing proxy in the dispute between Jones and Goodell. Many other owners agree with Jones that Goodell has an inordinate amount of sway on league matters.
Typically, issues like the commissioner’s contract are finalized quietly. But Jones’s increasingly strident opposition to Elliott’s suspension, as well as Goodell’s handling of the protests by players who have refused to stand for the national anthem, has spilled into an open battle at a time when the league is grappling with even larger problems, including a decline in television ratings and growing concerns over the safety of the game.
Goodell has tried to sidestep questions about his extension, mostly saying that he will continue to work at the behest of the owners and in the interest of the league.
Joe Lockhart, a league spokesman, told reporters on Thursday that all 32 owners voted in May to extend Goodell’s contract and that he expected discussions on the extension to be “wrapped up soon.”
He denied reports that Goodell was “furious” about how the contract talks have become the focus of the dispute.
He said was unaware of any lawsuit being filed by Jones against the league.
Asked if he expected a lawsuit to be filed, Lockhart said: “That’s a question that should be put to Mr. Jones.”
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