Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones Caused the NFL Lockout

By Jeric Griffin

Dallas Cowboys team owner and general manager has been called many things. Genius, brilliant American businessman, moron, spoiled billionaire and many other colorful titles have labeled the face of the Cowboys since 1989. However, Jones has never been called a villain. If anything, he has always been a friend of the players. That’s changed now. Jones is now not only a bad guy in the eyes of the players’ eyes, but the bad guy. Jerry Jones is the reason the NFL is currently locked out.

Jim Trotter wrote an article in Sports Illustrated this week describing a scene that went down at the recent federally mediated negotiations between the 10 owners on the NFL labor committee and the Players Association executive committee. I’m sure you’ve all read excerpts from the article by now, but here are the highlights in case you missed it:

“I don’t think we’ve got your attention,” Jones said to the players. “You clearly don’t understand what we’re saying, and we’re not hearing what you’re saying. So I guess we are going to have to show you to get your attention.”

Jones stood up to say those words and ended his little spill by pounding his two fists together, indicating a lockout. Jones then walked toward the door as if to say, “We’re through with you and we’re leaving.” The beauty of it is that none of the nine owners stood up to follow him. Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson scooted his seat back to stand up, but New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft put his hand on Richardson’s forearm to stop him. To the amusement of the players, Jones walked toward the door alone and then returned to his seat when he realized no one was coming with him. One of the players said he laughed and “it didn’t scare any of us.”

Jones has often been the savior of potential hostile situations in the NFL, whether it include players, coaches, owners, executives, or any other combination of personnel. He has often been known as the ultimate negotiator; if anyone could have prevented the lockout, it would have been Jones, we thought. Instead, Jones has joined the mindset of other gluttonous owners like Richardson, who are the true cause of the lockout and everything that is wrong in the NFL.

Now Jones is no longer the resilient boxer who continuously stands up after what seem to be devastating blows to his image. Jones survived the Cowboys’ dreadful 2010 season by going against his own word and firing head coach Wade Phillips halfway through the season. New head coach Jason Garrett’s instant success quelled the cries for Jones’ head, but then came the Super Bowl.

After the seating fiasco at Cowboys Stadium on Feb. 6 that resulted in a lawsuit, many thought Jones had finally done himself in. Then Jones’ immediate disappearance from the media and the talk of the lockout overshadowed his failures during the atypical ice storm that swept north Texas the week of the big game.

Now Jones has slipped and allowed the limelight to shine on his bad side. The Cowboys’ ever-slyly-optimistic owner accidentally allowed his true colors to show on the NFL’s biggest stage. That’s right; this dispute that has threatened the future of the most profitable and most popular sports league in America has drawn the attention of not only the U.S., but the world as a whole. Those who don’t understand why there possibly might not be an NFL season this fall are instantly curious as to why.

Now they know. Now the world knows who is behind the most ridiculous quarrel since the college football national champion of 2004. Jones has lowered himself to Richardson’s level and become the villain. No more infinite respect and buddy-buddy relationships from guys like Auburn Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Cam Newton and NFL star free agents like Oakland Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.

The funny part about it is the money. The owners are locking the players out because they want more money. The players have filed an antitrust lawsuit against the owners because they want to retain the status quo. They don’t want less health coverage and four weeks added to the season. The owners want the players to practice more and play more games while making less money and receiving less health coverage. By the way, this comes following the season that saw the most players placed on injured reserve than any other in NFL history.

Here’s the funny part: the owners don’t make any money if the players don’t play. Jones threatened the players like they’re the only ones who will be losing money because of the lockout. Here’s a news flash for Jones, Richardson and all the other owners: the fans are not going to buy tickets to go look at each other in Cowboys Stadium, Lambeau Field or any other NFL arena.

Several NFL teams, like the Browns, have already issued ticket refund policies in anticipation of the lockout interrupting the 2011 season. Instead of threatening the players and throwing a little fit like a teenage drama queen, maybe Jones should be planning a similar procedure. The owners may lock out the players, but the players have already struck back to prove their nerve by placing a boycott on the 2011 NFL draft.

Jones may have made his imprudent point to the players and embarrassed himself by walking out of the negotiating room alone, but he’ll soon learn what it’s like to be the villain in a world where he’s long been the admired protagonist. Abraham was called the Friend of God, a title all men have desired since the beginning of time. Jerry Jones was the friend of the NFL players, something every NFL executive longs for their entire career. He had no idea how beneficial that role was, but he’ll soon learn from its absence. If we didn’t know who Jones really was, we will soon learn from football’s absence.

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