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Some think Jerry Jones was behind the Papa John’s rant

The Dallas Cowboys have a tough task ahead of them if they have to play the next six weeks without Ezekiel Elliott.

On Wednesday, the CEO of Papa John’s blamed a decline in earnings on a decline in NFL ratings, which he in turn blamed on the lingering anthem controversy. In response, some blame Cowboys CEO Jerry Jones for putting Papa John up to it.

Jones has become a significant Papa John’s franchise owner, with the total number of stores owned by Jones in excess of 100 as of 2014.

The relationship started in 2004, when Papa John’s became the official pizza of the Cowboys, and in turn Jones acquired 49-percent interest in 71 Papa John’s stores. Eight years later, Jones appeared in a Papa John’s commercial, where he rapped through the whole thing.

More recently, Jones has been doing a different kind of rapping as he tries to derail the Commissioner’s contract extension, which the Compensation Committee already has been authorized, by a 32-0 vote back in May, to execute. The suspicion in some league circles is that Jones, who has reason to be even more upset with Commissioner Roger Goodell now that running back Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension is back on, instigated Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter to use Wednesday’s quarterly earnings conference call to dump on the NFL, and to call out NFL leadership for failing to solve the anthem issue before it became a full-blown problem.

For that reason, look for the league office to take Schnatter’s complaints with a grain of salt. (I could have made a pizza ingredient pun there but that would have been too cheesy.) However, the league office should take seriously the fact that Jones continues to look for new and creative ways to push his agenda, which could be to push out Goodell -- either by mustering 23 other votes to block his extension or by driving such a hard bargain as to the remaining terms that Goodell decides he doesn’t want it.