Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jonesâ€™ feud with other NFL owners over Commissioner Roger Goodellâ€™s new contract looms over the franchiseâ€™s nationally-televised Thanksgiving Day tilt with the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday.
Jones is set to appear at AT&T Stadium during the Thanksgiving game, which is traditionally one of the most-watched NFL contests of the regular season, just days after he said he would drop his threat to sue the NFL to block Goodellâ€™s contract extension. The declaration marked a thaw in frigid relations between the two groups after Jones accused the NFLâ€™s six-owner compensation committee of misleading other owners about Goodelâ€™s proposed compensation.
However, the business magnate warned this week that his effort to change the way the NFL does business isnâ€™t over.
â€œI want accountability,â€ Jones told USA Today on Tuesday. â€œThis is not about replacing Roger. â€¦ It is about accountability of the commissioner to all of the ownership.â€
Jones is a particularly powerful voice within the NFL community. Under his watch, the Cowboys have risen in value from $140 million when he purchased the franchise in 1989 to a league-best $4.8 billion this year, according to Forbes.
He is widely credited with helping to broker the Ramsâ€™ relocation to a massive new facility in Los Angeles before the 2016 NFL season, and famously backed Goodell despite his widely-panned handling of the â€œDeflategateâ€ scandal involving New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
Goodell has earned more than $200 million as commissioner since 2006. Under his leadership, the league is expected to earn a record $14 billion in revenue in 2017.
However, Jones became one of Goodellâ€™s most outspoken critics this season after Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboysâ€™ star running back, drew a six-game suspension for alleged domestic violence. Jones says that Goodellâ€™s handling of the NFLâ€™s response declining television ratings, national anthem protests and various legal issues, rather than Elliottâ€™s suspension, were the motivation behind his threat to sue the league.
He argues that all 32 NFL owners, not just the six members of the compensation committee, should review the final terms of Goodellâ€™s deal. Jones has also said that Goodellâ€™s pay should be tied directly to the leagueâ€™s financial performance and his ability to address key challenges.
In a letter to Atlanta Falcons owner and compensation committee chairman Arthur Blank, which was obtained by the New York Times, Jones said the NFLâ€™s sponsors believe the league has â€œcredibility issues.â€
â€œThe image of the commissionerâ€™s office is not positive and cannot be rewarded at this time,â€ Jones wrote.
Jonesâ€™ actions generated rumors that some of the NFLâ€™s owners were discussing the possibility of revoking his ownership rights for conduct detrimental to the league. Jones later dismissed that report as â€œlaughable.â€
His expected appearance at AT&T Stadium on Thanksgiving will mark his re-emergence on the national stage for the first time since withdrawing his legal threat. Last year, the Cowboysâ€™ holiday win over the Washington Redskins drew 35.1 million viewers, the largest total for a regular-season game in more than two decades.
The Cowboys have lost their last two games, both of which Elliott has missed due to suspension. Once considered a Super Bowl contender, Dallas enters Thanksgiving with a 5-5 record and will be without Elliott until late December.
Despite the teamâ€™s recent struggles, Jones told ESPN last Sunday that he doesnâ€™t believe his public battle with the league office has impacted the Cowboysâ€™ on-field performance.
"I don't in any way have a second thought about that, not at all," Jones said. "I really do want to be inspirational to our players, my players. And I want them to know that I'll do everything I can to help the Dallas Cowboys and help the NFL, and they should benefit from that."