Facebook Twitter

JONES ANGRY AT NFL FOR INTERFERING

SHARE JONES ANGRY AT NFL FOR INTERFERING

Jerry Jones believes the NFL is out to get him, and the Dallas Cowboys' owner has no intention of letting the league harass his team.

Jones, the Cowboys' rebellious owner, was furious Thursday over the league's ruling that he restructure Deion Sanders' $35 million contract."This is not about Deion; what this is about is sticking it to the Cowboys," Jones said. "They're trying to intimidate the Cowboys; they're trying to be a bully. It's so transparent that the NFL is being selective."

Last month, Jones vowed to fight a $300 million lawsuit filed by the NFL in an effort to stop him from signing any more licensing deals without league approval. Jones defied the league by agreeing to separate deals with Nike, Inc., Pepsi and American Express.

Jones plans to fight the NFL's objection to Sanders' contract as soon as he finds out from the league what's specifically wrong with it.

"The NFL has chosen to change the salary cap rules in midstream," Jones said. "The first time we step out and use the system for a high-profile free agent, the NFL objects to it. It's blatant subjectivity."

The league has conditionally approved Sanders' seven-year deal but said it violates the spirit of the $37.1 million-per-team cap, according to Harold Henderson, the NFL's director of labor relations.

Jones disagrees.

"I've lost a lot of faith in the NFL because of this," Jones said. "We will fight it. This gives me a lot of resolve. This is very disturbing."

Technically, Sanders will make the NFL base salary of $178,000 for the first three years, but his pay will average $5.5 million per year, including his nearly $13 million signing bonus.

"Sanders' contract is structured to avoid counting under the salary cap a very large portion of the compensation which Deion is to receive for his services during the early years of his contract," Henderson said.

"In this respect, Deion's contract stands apart from every other in the league. In our view, the contract as currently structured involves salary cap circumvention."

The decision was opposed by the NFL Players Association, which said the league has "no basis for challenging the contract in any way," according to Dick Berthelsen, the union's general counsel.

"The league has already approved contracts for other players who have used the same techniques, including Andre Rison and Eric Allen," he added. "I don't know if this will be settled before the season is over. This one is a real mystery."

Although the NFL is willing to let Sanders play, his left ankle will keep him out of action Sunday against San Diego. Sanders said the NFL "should leave Jerry Jones alone. This better be resolved. This really shows how smart the NFL is."

Jones said the Cowboys might have to cut a player and vowed the club will appeal the NFL decision. The matter will probably be transferred to the NFL special master for arbitration.

Jones doesn't expect the NFL to let up, either.

"Stay tuned," Jones said, "I expect other issues to come singling out the Cowboys. All items are linked together to apply pressure by other NFL owners. This is intimidation, but it's also poor judgment. I won't be bullied."

Jones said he's already heard talk about the NFL trying to take the Thanksgiving Day game away from the Cowboys. "I have concern right now in the direction the NFL is going," he said.