The NFL might be on the brink of civil war, and it looks like the league has Jerry Jones to blame.
The Dallas Cowboys owner has been on the warpath since the NFL announced in August a six-game suspension for Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott. The ban, stemming from an alleged domestic violence incident, was met with fury from Jones.
Jones, the Cowboys and Elliott have fought the suspension all season, just recently deciding to give up the battle after multiple court rulings. But the rift is obvious, as Jones’ battle with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has become one of the focal points this season.
And when Jones learned of Elliott’s suspension, according to ESPN the Magazine, the longtime owner invoked the name of New England Patriots owner Rober Kraft. After all, Kraft and the Patriots went through something similar during Deflategate. Kraft initially fought back before he and the Patriots ultimately gave up, and quarterback Tom Brady served a four-game suspension.
“I’m gonna come after you with everything I have,” Jones told Goodell upon learning of Elliott’s suspension in August, per ESPN The Magazine. “If you think Bob Kraft came after you hard, Bob Kraft is a p—y compared to what I’m going to do.”
And that wasn’t the only Jones-Kraft spat. According to the story, Jones also butted heads with Robert Kraft’s son, Patriots president Jonathan Kraft, during a league meeting on social media.
The story does detail common ground between Jones and Kraft. There seems to be plenty of frustration among NFL owners with the way the league has been run under Goodell, with Kraft reportedly viewing the league’s operation as “bloated” and also feeling the NFL “wastes” money on player discipline investigations, which obviously makes sense given the Patriots’ time under investigation.
But Kraft also did his own lobbying. According to the ESPN The Magazine story, Kraft called Goodell about the Elliott incident, apparently urging the commissioner to make a decision after dragging out the process.
“My guy got four games for footballs,” Kraft reportedly said to Goodell, “and there’s still nothing on this?”
Kraft largely is just a supporting character in this particular story, and there’s obviously going to be internal business skirmishes, especially considering the wealth and ego involved. But none of this bodes well for the NFL, and the greater theme of the ESPN article focuses on a brewing war between the league’s most powerful owner and the commissioner that shows no signs of ending anytime soon.