Jerry Jones has always been a league maverick, a new-guard owner operating on his own agenda and working to further his own desires.
You can't blame him. He wants what's best for his team, and he does everything he can to get it. He doesn't always do things that are in the interest of the league, but he certainly does things that are in the interest of the Dallas Cowboys.
Sometimes it rankles a few people, as was the case last week when he was fined a reported $100,000 for ignoring the NFL's gag order on talking about Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations.
On Sept. 4, when the Cowboys were in Minneapolis to play the Vikings in a preseason game, Jones talked about the need for a new stadium to replace the 27-year-old Metrodome. It's an old argument, one Vikings owner Zygi Wilf has been making since he bought the team in 2005.
But the thing that got Jones in a bit of hot water was his candid statement on revenue sharing.
"Right now, we are subsidizing this market," he told reporters. "It's unthinkable to think that you've got the market you've got here—3 1/2 million people—and have teams like Kansas City and Green Bay subsidizing the market. That will stop. That's going to stop. That's on its way out."
He was referring to the owners' wish to remodel revenue sharing in the next CBA. It's one of the big reasons the owners decided to opt out of the current agreement with the players after the 2010 season.
Under the current deal, all teams share national revenue, which is made up mainly of the multi-billion-dollar TV deals. In addition, the 15 richest owners subsidize the poorest with about $150 million more per season from local revenue sources.
That's the thing that frosts Jones and other big-market owners like New England's Robert Kraft and Washington's Daniel Snyder, who have to share revenue that they accrue from stadium naming rights, luxury boxes and local sponsorships.
Jones just built a $1.1 billion football mecca for his Cowboys, and while he pays that off he will be helping to subsidize teams like the Vikings, Colts, Chargers and Cardinals.
As Jones told reporters in 2006, when the owners hurriedly agreed to this CBA on the eve of free agency, "If I'm going to get my fanny kicked, I can put that off until another day. . . . You had to have your league hat on to make this work. And then you had to go one step further than that and think about the fans."
Well, apparently Jones' league hat is off and he's no longer as concerned about the fans, because he does not want to help fund other franchises any longer. Owners like Jones, Kraft and Snyder have nothing to lose if the NFL goes to an uncapped year in 2010 and then locks out players in 2011, because they already are paying the lion's share.
WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?
Wayne Weaver, owner of the financially struggling Jacksonville Jaguars, has tipped his hand about what he wants to do in the draft next year: Pick Florida QB Tim Tebow so he can sell some more seats. His football people have to be scratching their heads about that one, as Weaver just jacked up the asking price for any team the Jags might have to try to trade with.
Plus, by talking about how great it would be to get such an "iconic figure" with such "star power," Weaver basically has said he has no confidence in his current quarterback, David Garrard. What was Weaver thinking?
Carolina QB Jake Delhomme threw five interceptions in a 33-13playoff loss to Arizona last season, which was apparently good enough to earn a five-year contract extension that guaranteed him $20 million.
And then he went out and played just as poorly in the season-opening blowout loss to Philadelphia, throwing four more picks. What were the Panthers thinking?
Oakland rookie receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey had an uninspiring debut, dropping two passes and catching none. Coach Tom Cable said, "I saw a nervous, uptight young man. A lot of big eyes." This follows what reportedly was a pretty bad camp for the No. 7 overall pick.
On top of that, he has been completely outplayed by fourth-round pick Louis Murphy. Many, us included, thought the Raiders jumped on Heyward-Bey way too early in the draft, and it looks like we were right. What were the Raiders thinking?
First Oakland fell for him. Then Washington did. And that makes cornerback DeAngelo Hall the most overrated player in the NFL. The former Atlanta first-round pick was traded in March 2008 to the Raiders, who gave him a $70 million contract.
After just eight games last season, they figured out he wasn't worth it and, after paying $8 million for half a season, traded him to Washington. In February, the Redskins decided to give him a deal with $22.5 million guaranteed.
And then, against the Giants in Week 1, he proceeded to do the same things he had done in Atlanta and Oakland: blow coverages, miss tackles and garner penalties. What were the Redskins thinking?
On his shoes, he had written, "Pay me, Rick." Instead, Robinson will be paying Smith, who has fined him for conduct detrimental to the team. What was Robinson thinking?
The New England Patriots have made some odd personnel decisions this year. First, they traded franchise backup QB Matt Cassel and LB Mike Vrabel for a song (actually, one second-round pick). Then they added five defensive backs—three through free agency and two in the second round of the draft—and traded away another.
Then, even though they were incredibly thin at QB already, they cut 2008 third-round pick Kevin O'Connell, leaving them only with undrafted rookie Brian Hoyer backing up Tom Brady. Then they traded one of their top defensive players, Richard Seymour, just before the season.
Bill Belichick is the best coach in the game, but he sure seems to have handicapped himself this season. And we can't help but wonder: What was Belichick thinking?
"From the Top" is a weekly look at issues involving coaching, management and ownership of the NFL's 32 franchises. Check it and other football stories out at Football.com.
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