Jones Versus the NFL
Dallas owner Jerry Jones thinks of his little rebellion against the league this way: I paid $140 million for the Cowboys and Texas Stadium in 1989.1 have the most popular and marketable sports team on the planet. So why should I sit back and take no more than $3 million a year from NFL Properties—the same share every other team gets—and forget the other marketing dough I could make?
In August, Jones fired the financial shot heard round the NFL, signing a 10-year, $40 million deal with Pepsi to put its beverages and advertisements in Texas Stadium. The deal represented a declaration of war by Jones because Coca-Cola is the official soft drink of the NFL, having paid the league $250 million in 1993 for a five-year deal.
Commissioner Paul Tagliabue immediately charged Jones with being "shortsighted and self-serving" for violating the Coke contract and for trampling on the NFLs decades-old revenue-sharing policy.
San Francisco owner Eddie DeBartolo was even more exercised, accusing Jones of being like a heroin addict. Jones's jones, DeBartolo suggested, was money.
The league probably can't do a thing to Jones, because its revenue-sharing agreement wouldn't stand up to a legal challenge. Furthermore, Jones is right. The NFLs peculiar brand of socialism should go only so far. As long as teams are willing to kick in an agreed-upon percentage of their individually earned marketing money—somewhere between a third and a half—to a league pool, they should have every right to make as much as they can above and beyond that figure.
"We would make the players and teams in this league more money if we were all responsible for our own marketing," says Jones. "The more you grow the pie, the more you grow the league. People say I'm a maverick and not a team player, but I believe in revenue-sharing. I just think there's more revenue to share out there."
Rip It Out
What's really ominous about the damaged artificial turf that caused the cancellation of an Aug. 19 game at the Astrodome is that the precedent has been set. If players on other bad artificial fields, like Cincinnati's or Philadelphia's, find the same kind of pits, gaps and spongy holes that the Chargers found at the Astrodome, couldn't they, too, pressure officials to cancel the game? What kind of havoc would that create with the league's schedule, which doesn't exactly have a lot of makeup dates?
"It's going to happen," says Clark Gaines, chairman of the NFL Players Association's player safety and welfare committee. "It only takes one team to say, 'We're not playing.' I foresee it as a distinct possibility."