During Roger Goodell’s tenure as Commissioner of the NFL, the four most powerful owners have been, in whatever particular order, Jerry Jones, Robert Kraft, and the Rooney and Mara families. All were, at the outset, staunch Goodell allies. But now, Kraft and Jones have both seen their best players receive lengthy suspensions based on evidence they believe is dubious at best.
This tweet from Peter King feels a little bit ominous:
Jones, it should be noted, remained a cheerleader for Goodell’s strong discipline style during the Brady case. In 2015, after Goodell opted to uphold Brady’s four-game suspension for allegedly concocting a scheme to deflate footballs, he said that Goodell was “doing an outstanding job.”
“He has to make hard calls,” Jones said, “and more often than not, you’re going to have a season or you’re going to have a period of time where those go against you as an owner in the NFL.”
But now that it’s Jerry’s turn to be on the receiving end of the sword, and after he’d been publicly saying for months that there was no evidence his star running back committed domestic violence, he’s reportedly “furious.”
In 2015, we wondered whether Robert Kraft would dare go “Al Davis” on Goodell, and take the league to court over Brady. He did not (though his star quarterback did individually), but he was still visibly perturbed by the Deflategate proceedings in an unwieldy speech after the Pats won the Super Bowl this past February.
If Jones and Kraft banded together, would they be influential enough to get enough of their cohorts in the ownership ranks to topple Goodell? Or, are there enough owners out there that are still spiteful at what they perceived as years and years of Patriots cheating, and ones like Dean Spanos who were victims of Jerry Jones’s political maneuvering, that the power paradigm has just shifted and they’re out on an island?
There are a lot of dynamics at play in the next few years. Goodell’s contract expires in 2019. All of the league’s TV deals, as well as the collective bargaining agreement, will be on the table at that point. Whether Jones and Kraft want to make a run at Goodell’s head, and then whether they’ve got the manpower to get the job done, will be fascinating to observe.
The popcorn is in the microwave.