The Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins have finally responded to the salary cap penalty that the NFL laid on them for piling up contracts in the uncapped 2010 salary year. According to the Star-Telegram, the Cowboys and Redskins filed a grievance against the NFL and the NFL Players Association. For Jerry Jones, this is an important move.
Certainly, Cowboys fans were incensed by the penalty. I don't often allude to the writing of others on this site, but Dallas Cowboys featured columnist Peter Matarazzo made a strong point in his reaction to the penalty that surely resonates with Cowboys fans.
Peter called the penalty "despicable and inexplicable." He went on to say, "Cowboys Nation should be irate, irked and venomous towards the NFL and its executive committee of overpaid suits."
Cowboys fans across the nation—and Peter's just fine calling them a nation as they're one of the few American sports fandoms that stretches across the nation—must be mad. The NFL wasn't justified in laying the penalty on the Cowboys, nor the rival Redskins. Salary-loading was rampant across the NFL during the uncapped year.
Players received massive salaries, which will likely have implications for years to come.
As Peter said, the NFL's move was a contradiction. The decision not to allow loading in the uncapped year was a gentlemen's agreement, and those don't hold water in court.
Fortunately, Jones, along with the Redskins organization, is answering. The grievance is a message to the NFL that the Cowboys don't appreciate being handed an unfair penalty for doing what every other team did that year.
While it's unclear how the actions of the Cowboys compare to those of other teams, Jones can demonstrate that the Cowboys were fine giving Miles Austin a base salary of $17 million on a six-year, $57 million contract.
Moreover, this grievance is as much an appeal to Cowboys fans as it is to the NFL. The Cowboys are showing their fans that the organization won't lie down as the NFL slaps it with unjust penalties, especially at such an inappropriate time as the day before free agency began.
Jones has demonstrated that he wouldn't let the penalty get in the way, as he maneuvered to free up salary cap space and sign players. He cut Terence Newman, David Buehler and Kyle Kosier while restructuring the contracts of Doug Free and Orlando Scandrick. Then, Jones signed Kyle Orton, Brandon Carr and other needed players.
Still, Jones seemed to feel the need to show that he empathized with Cowboys fans. Jones told the Dallas Morning News that he was so upset that he is "talking to whoever we can visit about it."
Jones noted that the salaries were approved and that it wouldn't have been approved if it were against NFL rules.
Jones indicated that he would take legal action if necessary, saying, "We will and have expressed that we don't agree with that. What we're doing is a combination procedural and legal and all of that."
The Cowboys believe they can have the penalty eliminated or reduced. Cowboys vice president of player personnel Stephen Jones said the team is trying to avoid legal action, something that's generally a last resort for businesses.
Legal action would take much longer than private mediation. If the Cowboys succeed in arbitration, then they could reach a free-agent signing, as long as arbitration doesn't take too long.
Jones' move should be pleasing to Cowboys fans. He's making clear that the Cowboys are proud and active as an organization.