Exclusive: Jerry Jones not surprised owner misconduct included in Deshaun Watson appeal

·3 min read
Gus Ruelas/AP

The NFL Players Association has included a detailed list of past misconduct by NFL owners as part of its reply brief to the league’s appeal in Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson’s discipline case, according to Fort Worth Star-Telegram sources.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who is one of the owners cited for alleged misconduct that went unpunished, per a source, has refused to speak to the media about the Watson discipline.

Jones remains unconcerned about his inclusion in the reply brief.

In an exclusive interview with the Star-Telegram, Jones said that the NFLPA typically compares owners and players and called it “shooting volleys.”

“It is a standard players association comeback,” Jones said. ”That is the drill. That is the drill to go around to say you didn’t punish such and such. Anybody would know that every player case and every case that involves non-players in the NFL are dealing with dramatically different principle facts, which is all the difference in the world.”

Watson was given a six-game suspension by independent disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson under the league’s personal conduct policy. Watson was accused of sexual assault and harassment by 24 women during massage sessions when he was playing for the Houston Texans.

Watson, who was traded to Cleveland in March, has denied any wrongdoing.

The NFL filed an appeal Wednesday, seeking an indefinite suspension of at least one year and a fine around $8 million.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell selected former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey to hear the appeal.

The NFL said Friday there’s no timeline for Harvey to issue a ruling. The policy says the appeal will be “processed on an expedited basis.”

Per a source, the NFLPA included owner misconduct in the hearing with Robinson before the initial decision on discipline was made because of the league’s threat to seek unprecedented punishment.

Now that the charge is back on the table for the NFL, the NFLPA will lean on a phrase in the league’s Personal Conduct Policy, saying: “Ownership and club or league management have traditionally been held to a higher standard and will be subject to more significant discipline when violations of the Personal Conduct Policy occur.”

In addition to Jones, the NFLPA reply brief included the league’s handling of cases with Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

It is unknown what is different in the reply that wasn’t presented before Robinson.

But NBC’s ProFootballTalk reported in June that the union planned to point out that the league failed to investigate the 2015 voyeurism scandal involving former Cowboys vice president of communications Rich Dalrymple, resulting in a $2.4 million settlement with four former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

Snyder was accused of fostering a toxic workplace environment, including sexual harassment allegations within the Commanders organization.

And Kraft received no punishment after being charged with solicitation after a massage turned into a sexual encounter in a South Florida massage parlor in 2019.

“It would be like walking down to the courthouse and saying, ‘you didn’t give that guy that much’ and not take into account what the action was or the circumstances behind it,” Jones told the Star-Telegram. “That’s called shooting volleys. That’s just shooting stuff over your back. That’s the way I look at it when I see something like that.”

Jones said this is not the first time the NFL has tried to compare owners to players during his time in the NFL.

In his mind, none of it has any bearing on the Watson case.

“I can’t talk about any club, Watson or to refer to anybody’s punishment,” Jones said. “I can only say that is what you get when you are part of the NFL. It’s not unexpected.”