Several things have been written already about the ongoing showdown between Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, but none have been as in-depth or satisfying as the long piece authored by ESPN’s excellent Don Van Natta Jr. and Seth Wickersham.
The money quote is up high, as it should be, with Jones telling Goodell after learning of the Ezekiel Elliott suspension, “I’m gonna come after you with everything I have,” then threatening the commissioner further with a slur and a reference to Patriots owner Bob Kraft.
If the NFL ever ultimately implodes — unlikely, but still — this will be the scene from the first five minutes of the movie about everything that went wrong. Owen Wilson will make a fine Goodell, but we’re still casting Jones.
But the story is far more complex than just an isolated incident, as the writers lay out via this summary: “It is a turmoil that seems new but actually began years ago in a shadow war waged inside the cloistered world of NFL offices, owners’ suites, private meetings and conference calls, rooted in very different visions, mostly by Jerry Jones and Roger Goodell, about what the NFL’s future should be.”
A picture is painted of a two-track NFL, one in which Jones initially needed Goodell but one now in which their motivations and desires are increasingly at odds. Summaries cannot do the piece justice, so you should read it all.
What I will say, briefly, is this: When one of the least likable owners in the NFL and least likable commissioners in sports are fighting, it clearly is not good for short-term interests of the league itself. But it is fantastic for anyone who has watched the NFL bungle and botch its way through several crises with greed and self-interest at the forefront.
Football is a flawed but wonderful sport. The NFL is a flawed and less wonderful league. When a battle between two men who helped make it that way emerges, almost everyone else wins.