By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Jerry Jones fully supports NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision-making when it comes to player punishments.
Except, of course, when it’s his player being punished.
Moments after news broke that star Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott had been suspended six games following a lengthy domestic violence investigation, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Jones was furious to learn of the decision.
The 74-year-old Jones, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame over the weekend, stated numerous times throughout the investigation that he did not expect Elliott to be suspended.
“I have reviewed everything, and there is absolutely nothing — not one thing — that had anything to do with domestic violence,” Jones said in late July. “My opinion is there’s not even an issue over he-said, she-said. There’s not even an issue there.”
Jones also reportedly confronted the league’s head of domestic violence investigations, Lisa Friel, last year and suggested that an Elliott suspension would bring a bad result for both Friel and Jones.
So, it’s not at all surprising to learn that Jones is “furious” with this decision. But it’s also, of course, wildly hypocritical.
Back when it was the Patriots and Tom Brady being punished, Jones threw his full support behind Goodell. Jones did so by taking a dig at Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who apparently told Jones that he should accept the commissioner’s punishment for salary cap violations in 2012.
“He’s got obviously a very tough job. … But he’s doing an outstanding job,” Jones said of Goodell in July 2015. “Some of the very people sometimes that have the biggest complaints, they’re the ones who give you a phone call and say, ‘Hey let’s be a team player now and let’s all get in here and realize that this happens to everybody and let’s go on and compete. We’ve got a great league and a great game.'”
Jones reiterated his unwavering support of the commissioner’s decision in a pregame interview during the 2015 season, when Tom Brady was playing against the Cowboys while appealing his suspension.
“I do support the commissioner,” Jones stated. “And I support the commissioner for what his position relative to the rules and the sanctions.”
In May of 2015, Jones praised Goodell’s fairness.
“I think he’s doing a great job, and I’m a big supporter of his,” Jones said of Goodell in the midst of the DeflateGate saga. “I’ve certainly had the benefit of his role as commissioner and being penalized in the past. But I’m a big supporter of his. I know one of his best qualities is fairness.”
Regarding the Patriots’ opposition to the commissioner’s ruling, Jones offered a simple solution: “You can easily just follow the rules and you’ll be all right.”
In August last year, Jones said, “I’m all for the power of the commissioner.”
“I’m really getting mouthy here, but what I’m really trying to say is that I’m for the commissioner having the power,” Jones added.
(Tangentially related, Jones signed Greg Hardy with the knowledge that he would be suspended for violating the personal conduct policy for a domestic violence incident. Jones later called Hardy’s domestic violence issue “a real lifetime challenge for him” and also defended Hardy’s comments about Brady’s wife by saying that some people exist solely to be told they are pretty.)
While the hypocrisy is plain to see, where Jones does actually have some reason to be properly upset is that just last year, Goodell decided to issue just a one-game suspension to Giants kicker Josh Brown. That decision came despite NFL security reportedly having to intervene in a dispute between Brown and his family during a Pro Bowl.
It wasn’t until the New York Daily News uncovered documents that showed a long pattern of Brown abusing his wife that Brown suffered a stiffer consequence than the one Goodell issued to him. Reports later surfaced that this information had been available to the NFL, but the NFL either improperly pursued it or did not effort to obtain the information.
That Giants owner John Mara is close with Goodell, and that the Giants’ kicker just so happened to be issued a suspension roughly 16 percent of the length of the “mandatory” suspension, and that Elliott now faces a six-game suspension despite no criminal charges and a not-at-all-transparent investigation process? Jones would certainly be reasonable to question whether some iniquitous decision-making is taking place at the NFL headquarters.
But, well, Jones himself made it clear two years ago. Part of Goodell’s job is to make decisions that draw the ire of owners. It’s important in such times to support the commissioner 100 percent.
You can easily just follow the rules, and you’ll be all right.