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Jerry Jones’ gesture may have set the stage for decertification

Jerry Jones

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones answers a question during a news conference Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011, in Dallas. The Pittsburgh Steelers will play the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)


At the outset of a summary of last week’s collapse of negotiation sessions between the NFL and the players’ union, Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated paints a picture of the kind of disrespect that likely helped the drive players toward the decertification-and-litigation option.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, not a bit humbler after last month’s Super Bowl seating fiasco or the prior day’s finding that the owners had abused their duty to max out revenues by cutting a deal for lockout insurance, opened a face-to-face meeting with the players on March 2 with the following message to the players who attended the session.

I don’t think we’ve got your attention,” Jones said, according to several players who spoke anonymously to Trotter. “You clearly don’t understand what we’re saying, and we’re not hearing what you’re saying. So I guess we’re going to have to show you to get your attention.”

Per Trotter, Jones then tapped his fists together. The players interpreted the gesture as a sign that a lockout was coming. (Maybe he was simply using Friends code for giving the finger.)

Jones then stood up and walked out. Panthers owner Jerry Richardson reportedly prepared to leave as well, but Patriots owner Robert Kraft put a hand on Richardson’s forearm, prompting Richardson to stay put.

If the report is accurate, it’s troubling. And it helps us understand why the deal couldn’t get done.

And it makes us even more convinced that, if the talks were being handled by a mediator appointed by one of the two judges who have authority over the litigation between the parties, the owners would think twice before acting that way in the presence of a person who can promptly report back to Judge Doty or Judge Nelson any unreasonable or abusive or counterproductive conduct.

Until that happens, the process would be better served if, when talks resume, some of the owners stay home and count their money.