For all the comfort and joy the holiday season can bring, the gatherings of family and friends over the last six weeks of the year can also be stress-inducing.
And if you think things are going to be anxious at your house this Thursday, imagine how tense Thanksgiving will be at Dallas’ AT&T Stadium.
That will be the scene of the NFL meeting between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Cowboys.
The Cowboys are struggling to get into the playoffs, and Dallas’ best player, second-year running back Ezekiel Elliot is serving a six-game suspension for violating the league’s domestic violence policy, so nerves in Big D are already frayed.
But, if NFL Commissioner Smiling Roger Goodell shows up, well, let’s just say his presence will be as welcome as that of the guy who grabs the last piece of pie.
Besides his identity to fans as the man who dropped the hammer on Elliot, Goodell has become persona non grata in Dallas to one other person, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
Jones is said to be so livid at Goodell that he single-handedly tried to usurp the authority of a committee of other owners who were working to extend the commissioner’s contract.
Jones reportedly sent a letter to league officials and owners, threatening to sue the NFL if Goodell’s contract was extended.
The deal, which is said to run from the original contract’s end in 2019 through 2023, is reportedly nearly finished.
The turn in the relationship between Jones and Goodell is swift and stunning considering that Goodell has done the most important thing a commissioner can do for a league, namely make money.
League revenues are up 50 percent since 2010 to a figure of over $13 billion annually. Goodell seems well on his way to his stated goal, to get NFL revenues to $25 billion a year in the next 10 years.
As a result, Goodell has been handsomely compensated. In the years between 2008 and 2015, Goodell received more than $205 million in salary and bonuses.
Before you swoon over that number, consider that ESPN is reporting that in his new package, Goodell is asking for just under $50 million a year with lifetime access to a private plane and to health insurance for himself and his family.
For public consumption, Jones is said to be concerned about the size of Goodell’s paychecks.
Wary of the drain on the NFL’s popularity supposedly fueled by anger over national anthem protests, Jones reportedly wants the league to more closely examine Goodell’s role in protecting the shield, the nickname for the league’s logo.
All of that would follow if not for reports that Jones is reportedly livid at Elliot’s suspension.
Jones, who is used to getting his way at all costs, has reportedly said privately that Goodell assured him that there would be no suspension.
Instead, Goodell properly threw the book at Elliot, thus drawing the ire of one of his benefactors. Jones supposedly told Goodell in August that he would come after him with everything he had.
Let’s just say that if Smilin’ Roger shows up at Jerry’s house Thursday, he’d better bring more than a pumpkin pie.
And that’s how I see for this week.