IRVING, Texas –As the Cowboys returned to practice in preparation for Sunday night's game against the Oakland Raiders, Jerry Jones huddled with other NFL owners Wednesday in nearby Irving to address matters at the league level – most notably NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's new contract.
For weeks, Jones' opinion on Goodell's contract situation has been a national storyline. Earlier this season, Jones respectfully pointed out that Goodell had 18 months remaining on his original contract, and stressed the need for the Commissioner and the owners to tackle challenges facing the league first.
In a press conference after Wednesday's December League Meeting, the Cowboys' owner/general manager discussed the prospect of changes to the league's constitution – a decision that requires a majority vote among owners – as well as ownership influence over incentives in Goodell's new, largely performance-based contract.
"I'm very rewarded that this exercise of extending Roger has brought that about," Jones said. "That is the way that I see it and it's going to be. I want to emphasize I didn't do it. It took the will of 32 owners to get that done.
"What is neat is that Roger, who always has the league in mind and best interests, Roger has agreed to be a leader in implementing those changes. And there's nobody that doesn't see the need for changes in the NFL in several areas.
"We're doing a lot of things good. But there's some areas we need to change. One of it is an antiquated constitution, an antiquated situation as to the power of the Commissioner. This will address that."
Jones also said he recognizes the good work Goodell has done as Commissioner and how much Goodell loves the league.
"I hope Roger earns every dime," Jones said of Goodell's incentive-based contract. "That means he's doing a great job and we're doing good."
Jones was asked if prospective adjustments to the Commissioner's power would also relate to player discipline. Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott's six-game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy has been opposed by Jones and contested legally by the NFL Players Association on behalf of Elliott. The All-Pro running back has denied 2016 accusations of domestic violence by a former girlfriend, and he was never criminally charged.
"I don't want to get specific. But certainly you can have nice long conversations about that entire area, and we all know some of the frailties," Jones said. "Since the beginning of time, institutions have been slow to act in social changes. They have been slow to act. When they act, they usually overreact and then they have to come back and make the adjustment.
"There's nothing new dynamically going on here. The facts are that yes, we can do better, and I know that we all can strive to do better. And boy, do we want to do better."
Goodell addressed the media for 10 minutes before Jones took the podium. He said his relationship with the Cowboys' owner has been "great" despite their differences of opinion at times.
"I respect Jerry. I respect everyone else in that room," Goodell said. "They all have strong views about the way we do things, and I think that's what has made successful over the years."
For his part, Jones reiterated that his efforts in these matters are solely a result of his passion to better the entire league.
"Do you know how lucky I feel at 75 years old to get to fight this fight and be involved in it?" Jones said. "I have to pinch myself every day to get involved here.
"Everything, whether I'm disagreed with or not, has as the end game been in the best interest of our fans and the entertainment of the game."