The NFL sent a letter to the attorney of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on Wednesday, accusing him of "conduct detrimental to the league's best interests" regarding his criticism and attempt to block an extension for commissioner Roger Goodell.
Andrew Beaton of the Wall Street Journal reported details of the letter, which comes after more than a month of behind-the-scenes tensions. Beaton reported some owners have even raised the prospect of removing Jones as Cowboys owner.
A "handful" of prominent people within the NFL denied there was a discussion about removing Jones, who has been considered among the NFL's most influential owners for decades.
"I have zero awareness of any such conversations," an owner told ESPN's Chris Mortensen while adding "the league has options to consider conduct detrimental to the league built into the league constitution."
Jones retained the services of attorney David Boies, threatening to sue the league earlier this month if the six-person committee appointed to handle Goodell's extension moved forward. NFL ownership had voted unanimously in May to allow Kansas City Chiefs owner Clark Hunt, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, New York Giants owner John Mara, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II and Houston Texans owner Robert McNair to handle negotiations.
"Someone who is genuinely concerned 'that the owners know the truth about the negotiations' would not deliberately distribute such an outdated document, particularly when he has in his possession drafts that are current and accurately reflect the actual state of negotiations, or threaten to sue the league and its owners if he does not get his way," the letter said.
Jones has been at odds with Goodell on a number of topics, most prominently the six-game suspension of Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott. The Pro Bowler withdrew his appeal of the ban Wednesday and will not return to the team until their Dec. 24 game against the Seattle Seahawks.
Jones was also unhappy about Goodell's handling of players kneeling during the national anthem. President Donald Trump and Jones, who are friends, were both critical of the form of protest.
Goodell would not, despite some pressure from Jones, mandate players stand for the anthem.