Last week, skeletal billionaire Jerry Jones made a curious comment in his capacity as Dallas Cowboys owner when he told reporters that revenue sharing - a staple of the NFL’s monetary structure and a key factor in the “parity” that generally defines the league from year to year - was “on its way out.” That would be good news to not many owners, only the richest - and one of them is most certainly Mr. Jones.
One tiny problem, though, and that’s the fact that Roger Goodell had earlier issued a gag order on the owners to keep them from publicly commenting on pending labor issues. It’s hard to break that rule more blatantly and clearly than how Jones just did, and that’s why the commissioner just issued Jones a fine that’s probably larger than your yearly salary.
Jones crossed the line, drawing a “six-figure” fine, sources said, as the commissioner distributed a memo Friday to all 32 owners, along with a reminder that the gag order remains in effect. Goodell did not disclose the specific amount of Jones’ fine in the memo.
A league spokesman declined to confirm or deny the fine, labeling such an issue as an “internal matter.”
Jones didn’t apologize for his comments in a statement released Sunday.
“If my comments in Minnesota were viewed as being over the line, then so be it,” he said. “The comments were made in an effort to assist a fellow NFL owner and his team’s pursuit of bringing a new stadium to the fans of the Twin Cities. Having just completed the process of stadium construction, and knowing how much it means to an NFL market, this is something that I would do for any of my ownership partners. It just goes to show how intertwined labor issues are with the construction of new stadiums — from a positive perspective.”
If your head is spinning from Jones’ quote, that’s okay. It took a few readings for us to parse through the crap, and the general gist is this:
“I am not going to be sharing my money with the Vikings anymore, which means they definitely can’t afford a new stadium all by themselves, so I strongly suggest taxpayers foot the bill for a new, nine- or ten-figure stadium instead. That work, Vikings?”
If that’s the case - and again, Jones would really like it if it were - then Vikings fans ought to be terrified. After all, the Vikings don’t exactly enjoy the luxury of a large market, and if the stadium were bringing in a sufficient amount of money then there’d be no need for a new one. But with pro franchises getting used to heavy public assistance in stadium deals, the message is essentially that the citizens are going to have to pony up big time if they want the Vikes to stick around. That means it’s time to start wondering if it’s really worth hundreds of dollars per every single resident to have a football franchise in town - especially since the citizens don’t equally share in the financial rewards if things go well.