For Jerry, Zeke’s Suspension Has Placed The Bullseye on Goodell’s Back
Well, you’ve gotta hand it to the NFL. Even in preseason, when pigskin pulses are still iced over from a long winter, they certainly know how to set the stage for a battle of powerhouses. No offense to the Mayweather-McGregor camps, but all that verbal pizazz you call showbiz is little more than flavorful fluff.
Out in California at Camp Cowboy, there, my friends, is where the real action festers this summer. There is the place where, on Friday, the first big punch of the new season was landed. Yes, no doubt about it. Football is back.
If ever there was a fist-to-face moment on a sunny, lazy day in training camp, then the NFL’s announcement of a six-game suspension for Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was just that to the weathered, Hall of Fame countenance of team owner Jerry Jones. Be of good cheer, Cowboy enthusiasts. Jerry & Team was up and back at Roger Goodell presently with a right hook of their own. That, after all, is the Arkansas way. At least, for those of Jerry’s temperament and standing.
Shortly after the ruling was handed down from the commissioner’s office, Elliott’s representatives issued a statement declaring their intentions of appealing the ruling.
For a show, this is the place. For a fight, this is the time. One has to wonder what took so long.
Roger and Jerry are the two most powerful figures in National Football League circles, the biggest dogs on the biggest sports block in America. It’s been a point of debate for the last decade concerning which of the two is bigger. Roger of the $44 million salary, or Jerry of the $4.2 billion kingdom?
After a few light dustups over the past few years, the antagonism of these two football alphas has finally reached the breaking point. Roger wants to protect his position. Jerry wants to protect his player. The war is about to begin, the long-standing debate poised to finally be settled.
Only adding to the drama surrounding these two power figures is the sense that this entire investigation was nothing more than a glorified witch hunt, provoked by some shadowy figure who simply has it in for the Cowboys’ young running back. It was in the middle of last season, when discussion of Elliott’s off-the-field actions simply wouldn’t subside, that the name of John Mara went to the top of my list of likely suspects. In a world full of them, I am aware of no individual who loathes the Cowboys more than does the owner of the New York Giants. The last ten months have only strengthened these suspicions.
There was a time when the Commissioner’s office would have gone out of its way to protect the credibility of an investigation. But apparently, with revenues being what they are, running an above-board department isn’t necessary.
Who needs a screening process? Certainly not the NFL. Not when the Cowboys have a Week 1 showdown with the Giants looming large on the horizon, and not when you can have a diehard Giants fan spearhead the investigation.
Overthrowing this ruling, and not to mention the entire process, poses as Jerry’s greatest challenge since beating Paul Tagliabue over the head with a Pepsi bottle in 1995. His options in the matter aren’t quite as colorful, but certainly worth considering.
Will Jerry be content to settle for a reduction, or will he be bent on sticking it to Goodell with a knockout blow? That decision might be determined by how close Jerry deems his team is to actually competing for their first Super Bowl title in 22 years, and how critical Zeke is to the overall efficiency of the Dallas offense. Zeke is the Cowboys’ best player. Can they win without him?
Jerry made his stance on the controversy known a couple weeks back, telling reporters there wasn’t a shred of evidence that Elliott was guilty of domestic violence. Elliott’s representatives, along with the rest of the Players Union, are of the same opinion.
May the legal tussle ensue.
The beginning of the regular season is still thirty days away. But the fight is already well underway.