NFL owners have reportedly discussed a 'nuclear option' that would force Jerry Jones to sell the Cowboys

  • Jerry Jones has threatened legal action against the NFL over Roger Goodell's contract extension.
  • Some owners have reportedly discussed the possibility of using a clause in the league's constitution to force Jones to sell the Cowboys as a potential "nuclear option."
  • The owners' case would hinge on their belief that Jones encouraged Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter to speak out against the league.


Jerry Jones' brewing war with the NFL over Roger Goodell's contract extension has heightened tensions across the league.

Jones has threatened to sue the league and some of his fellow owners over Goodell's contract, as first reported by the New York TimesThe threat prompted Jones to be removed from his position as an ad-hoc member of the NFL's compensation committee, the committee tasked with negotiating Goodell's contract. But that may have just been the first step.

According to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, some owners have discussed the possibility of going nuclear on Jones.

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Jerry Jones through the years
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Jerry Jones through the years
(Original Caption) Dallas: Jerry Jones, millionaire oilman from Arkansas holds a press conference at the Dallas Cowboys headquarters 2/25 evening during which he told those gathered that his former college roommate and teammate at Arkansas Jimmy Johnson, would replace Tom Landry as the Cowboys head coach.
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1990: Owner Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys on the field looks on prior to the start of an NFL football game circa 1990. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
CIRCA 1991 - Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones in this portrait on the field circa 1991 before an NFL football game. Jones has owned the Cowboys from 1989-present. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1995: Owner Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys talks with his head coach Barry Switzer (R) while on the field prior to the start of an NFL football game circa 1995. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 19: Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones talks with the media after departing an NFL owners meeting 19 September in Atlanta, Georgia. Jones and the Dallas Cowboy organization is being sued by NFL Properties in excess of 300 million USD for violating league agreements concerning club trademarks and product endorsements. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read DOUG COLLIER/AFP/Getty Images)
TEMPE, AZ - JANUARY 28: Owner Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Cowboy defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XXX on January 28, 1996 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. The Cowboys won the Super Bowl 27-17. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Dallas Cowboys Cliff Harris is honored by owner Jerry Jones with being added to the ring during halftime of a 26 to 10 loss to the New York Giants on October 10, 2004 at Texas Stadium in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Dallas Cowboys team owner and general manager Jerry Jones (left) and head coach Bill Parcells (right) during a press conference in Oxnard, California Friday, July 28, 2006. The Dallas Cowboys start training camp and two-a-days Saturday in Oxnard. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT via Getty Images)
Terrell Owens, left, looks on as Dallas Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones explains his thoughts on the risk of signing Owens at a press conference announcing Owens as a member of the Cowboys at Valley Ranch in Irving, Texas, Saturday, March 18, 2006. (Photo by Stewart F. House/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT via Getty Images)
Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones poses with Atlanta Owner Arthur Blank before their team play on December 16, 2006 in Atlanta, Georiga. Dallas defeated Atlanta by the score of 38 to 28. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
07 SEP 2008: Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones during the Cowboys NFL game against the Cleveland Browns in Cleveland Ohio September 7, 2008. (Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/Icon SMI/Icon Sport Media via Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - JULY 15: Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, during a visit to Mexico's soccer team training session at Cowboys Stadium on July 15, 2009 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Mario Castillo/Jam Media/LatinContent/Getty Images)
DALLAS - OCTOBER 30: (L-R) Dallas mayor Tom Leppert, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, NBA Commissioner David Stern and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban sit together on stage as Dallas is announced as the host for the 2010 NBA All-Star Game during a press conference on October 30, 2008 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2008 NBAE (Photo by Kerre Randel/NBAE via Getty Images)
09 January 2010: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones with Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin #19 following the Dallas Cowboys 34-14 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in a NFC Wild-Card game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX. (Photo by Ray Carlin/Icon SMI/Icon Sport Media via Getty Images)
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, left, and former Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith stand with Smith's bust during the Enshrinement Ceremony for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, Saturday, August 7, 2010. (Rodger Mallison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT via Getty Images)
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones leaves the field following a morning practice during Cowboys training camp, Tuesday, July 31, 2012, in Oxnard, California. (Ron Jenkins/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 29: (L-R) Texas debutante Jessica Catherine Jones, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Texas debutante Haley Alexis Anderson attend the 58th International Debutante Ball at The Waldorf-Astoriaon December 29, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Owner of the Dallas Cowboys Jerry Jones arrives at the 2013 Vanity Fair Oscar Party at Sunset Tower on February 24, 2013 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Mark Sullivan/WireImage)
ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 09: Jerry Jones, Owner, President and GM of the Dallas Cowboys attends the press conference for the 2014 The Cowboy Rides Away tour at Dallas Cowboys Stadium on September 9, 2013 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Essential Broadcast Media)
ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 28: Owner Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys is pictured on the field before the start of the game against the Denver Broncos at AT&T Stadium on August 28, 2014 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Dallas Cowboys Owner, President and General Manager Jerry Jones (L) and Gene Jones attend the 50th Academy of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 12: Owner Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys signs some autographs for Cowboys fans before the game aagainst the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on October 12, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
19 December 2015: Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones signs autographs prior to the NFL regular season game game between the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Jets at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. New York won the game 19-16. (Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire) (Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 06: Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones looks on before the game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 6, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. Dallas defeated Cleveland 35-10. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, center, talks with head coach Jason Garrett, left, and Stephen Jones in the Dallas Cowboys' Draft War Room at Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas, on Thursday, April 27, 2017. (Max Faulkner/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS via Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 23: Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones gets a Arkansas Razorbacks Jersey for the 1961 Arkansas National Championship team during the game between the Arkansas Razorbacks and the Texas A&M Aggies on September 23, 2017 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 22: Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones stands on the field looking on while his team warms up prior to the start of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on October 22, 2017 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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Florio reported that owners opposed to Jones could potentially trigger a clause in the league's constitution and bylaws that could force an owner to sell his team if it is determined that the owner "has been or is guilty of conduct detrimental to the welfare of the League or professional football."

The owners' case against Jones would likely hinge around the recent debacle between the NFL and their relationship with Papa John's pizza. According to Florio, some owners believe that Jones made an appeal to Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter to disparage the league for a loss of revenue due to declining ratings and poor leadership during the ongoing protests from players. If that can be proven, NFL owners may be able to argue that Jones' actions were against the interests of the league.

Should the commissioner find that to be the case, and believes a monetary fine insufficient punishment, he can pass the matter along to the NFL’s Executive Committee, which has the power to compel "[c]ancellation or forfeiture of the franchise in the League of any member club involved or implicated," with a directive to sell the team.

It's still a long shot that other owners would make such a move against Jones. It would undoubtedly lead to years of legal cases. However, the threat of such a legal battle is at the very least another weapon being used in this blossoming war among NFL owners.

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