Despite the off-the-field drama regarding personal conduct violations and the suspensions that come with them, the National Football League is about making money and protecting its brand. Some may argue that the recent headlines regarding commissioner Roger Goodell’s new contract is a threat to both goals.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones recently announced that he would likely bring suit against the NFL if it approves a new compensation package for Goodell that would begin when Goodell’s current contract expires in 2019. This is a sharp rebuke and a role reversal for Jones given that NFL owners unanimously decided in May to extend Goodell’s contract and authorized a compensation committee to work out the details.
This harmony, however, was short lived. After the commissioner announced the suspension of Cowboys’ running back Ezekiel Elliott, Jones has been quite vocal about his disappointment and has taken additional measures to question Goodell’s leadership and future compensation. Jones is not part of the compensation committee, but has stated that he wanted to be an “ad hoc member” for unspecified reasons. Additionally, while Jones has not stated publicly that his feelings about Goodell’s future stem from the Elliott suspension, such a sentiment cannot be dismissed out of hand.
In the meantime, Jones has reportedly hired top litigator David Boies in preparation for a potential legal battle. It remains to be seen whether a lawsuit will actually be filed, or what legal grounds Jones would have for a successful lawsuit, but the story exemplifies the need for experienced legal counsel when high-stakes disagreements arise.