In October, ESPN's Don Van Natta Jr., Seth Wickersham and Tisha Thompson reported that beleaguered Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder had directed his legal firms to hire private investigators to look into other owners around the league and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
According to that report, Jerry Jones was a particular subject of interest, with one team source saying Snyder had "dirt" on Jones and a second source saying Snyder had told a confidant he had "a file" on the Dallas Cowboys owner.
On Thursday, Jones said during an interview with Jarrett Bell of USA Today that the idea of being watched, or "surveyed," wasn't a new one to him in his line of work, but that he didn't believe Snyder had gone that far:
"First of all, I don't believe it. The idea of being surveyed—I'd rather use that word than being followed, being tailed—that is not a new one in my life. And it began, really, when I first got to the Cowboys. I thought it was Tex (Schramm, former Cowboys president), but it wasn't Tex. We had some disgruntled limited partners... they were trying to find out if there were any gaping holes in how I got involved with the Cowboys, or my credentials financially, if I was a 'Paper Tiger,' or what was I?
"The FBI came and also told me, 'Jerry, you need to get a full-time person watching your airplane. We've had enough smoke around here about people being mad at you. You need to have your plane watched.'
"So, when I think about somebody looking at you, I've been molded ... I've gotten used to that.
Jones then reiterated that he didn't believe Snyder would go to such great lengths.
"I really haven't felt like Dan would do that or go that far, relative to me, because we are friends," he said. "But by the same token, I know Dan is his own worst enemy, his very own worst enemy."
Few figures in sports have become more controversial, or faced greater scrutiny, than Snyder, who has been the subject of multiple congressional investigations, a probe from the Washington, D.C. and Virginia attorneys general and the NFL itself regarding the team's workplace culture and alleged history of sexual harassment.
That led Jim Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts, to make the unprecedented move of saying he believed there was cause for Snyder's removal:
Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Colts?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Colts</a> owner Jim Irsay still speaking on <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Commanders?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Commanders</a> owner Dan Snyder. Says he wants to see the final report, but: "I'm very concerned that he needs to be removed." <a href="https://t.co/QqmzSFNNmf">pic.twitter.com/QqmzSFNNmf</a>
Jones hasn't been a stranger to controversy himself. In November, the Washington Post published a picture of Jones in 1957, when he was 14 years old, in attendance at North Little Rock High School when white students attempted to block six Black students from entering and integrating the school.
Jones said he was there because he was curious about what was happening and wasn't participating in the effort to stop the Black students from entering.
"I've been thinking about this," he said. "The way I grew up—and that [Washington Post] article touched on the way I grew up a little bit—and the way that picture portrayed, I have always been sensitive about the inequities that were involved in those times. I was there. With sensitivity. At that time. I respect what those students stood for and what they were trying to do [in attempting to integrate the school]."
As for Snyder and Jones, the Cowboys' owner is considered one of, if not the most, powerful owners in both the NFL and professional sports. If Snyder was snooping around NFL owners and Goodell, it would make sense that he took particular interest in Jones.
But Jones, at least publicly, doesn't believe Snyder has taken those steps.