The owner of the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones, recently took part in a pair of lawsuits involving the NFL. One involved Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott who was suspended by the league, and the other involved the extension of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s contract. It’s been reported that Jones has now reimbursed the NFL for the legal fees associated with these actions, $2 million.
The reason Jones did this is because the NFL has it written into their contract, Resolution FC-6, that any team that initiates, joins, has a direct, football-related financial interest in, or offers substance assistance to any lawsuit or other legal, regulatory or administrative proceeding against the league must pay for the legal fees incurred.
Now, some of you are going to say, “Hey, it’s in the contract. They knew what they were getting into before they signed the rules. He violated them, pay up.” While I agree he most likely violated the terms of the agreement, I think the contact itself is, or at least should be, illegal.
Let me give you an example. If you write up a contract in which the signing party agrees to let you kill and eat said person; you will not be exempt from prison after you perform those deeds. Just because it is a signed contract doesn’t mean it’s legal.
In this case the league is basically placing an undue burden on its members. It’s saying “we can kill and eat you and when we get arrested, you have to pay for our legal fees.” I don’t see how it’s possible a team or person can waive their rights to any lawsuit against any other organization. It’s a blank check to be cashed at any time. There is too much power in the hands of the league and not enough in the owner to make a reasonable decision. If you want an NFL team you’re going to be willing to sign just about anything. Take a look at your phone contract if you don’t believe me. All the power is in the hands of one side.
Sure, a prospective owner can say, “No way, I don’t approve of such a provision and therefore I’m not going to own a team or have a phone.” That is an unrealistic expectation. There are certainly legal limits to what you can sign away, as my example above details. It’s my opinion this particular rule is beyond that line.
Sure, Jerry Jones has a couple of million to burn but that doesn’t mean he wants to do it. I’m willing to bet he considered challenging the clause but in the end decided it wasn’t worth the effort and the potential retribution that might come his way from the league and other owners. That’s a shame but it is his decision in the end.
To my way of thinking, Jones just got two million of his hard-earned dollars legally robbed and that bothers my sensibilities.
By Tom Liberman
Tom Liberman is a writer from St. Louis, Mo., and enjoys spending his time with his great family and wonderful friends. He’s written a number of Sword and Sorcery fantasy novels.