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Owners Put On Rally Hats


That is a lot of scratch, right? 

And after watching Jones operate over the past 17 years, he had not been a happy camper most of the day. Jerry can't hide his body language. And as can be imagined, neither were some of the other high-revenue owners, guys such as Dan Snyder and Bob McNair. 

"We had gotten over to the I's and me's a little bit," Jones admitted, meaning the owners were thinking of themselves. 

But when push came to serious shove late in the afternoon, here is what happened: 

"You had to have your league hat on, league, your NFL hat on, to make this work," Jones said, "and then you had to go one step forward . . . you had to ask yourself from the fans' standpoint, how in the world would you like to wake up in the morning and there be a hiccup in what is the National Football League." 

In other words, what's good for the league is good for the Cowboys or the Redskins or the Patriots. This was a lesson Jones learned very early, and one passed down from former Cowboys president Tex Schramm, who realized a strong league meant an even stronger franchise. That is why Schramm at one point was commissioner Pete Rozelle's right-hand man. 

Jones was not alone. 

"We got labor peace and it's intelligent," said noted maverick owner Al Davis in the end. "It makes sense because we do have the greatest game in the world and we have a great league." 

So some little committees started forming. They melded two proposals into one, and then Jones was instrumental in tweaking that one to the point of selling it to the rest of the membership. In the end, the vote was 30-2, only Cincinnati and Buffalo opposing, leaving Bills owner Ralph Wilson saying in the end, "It's a very complex proposal and I didn't understand it. I didn't think I was a dropout, but maybe I am." 

Oh my. 

There was another reason this deal finally got done. 

"Deadlines are critical to making decisions," Jones said. "Over the years I learned a good negotiator tries to create deadlines. You try to put off deals. And when I know I'm going to get my fanny kicked, I try to put that off." 

Jones did. Snyder did. Many of the owners did. Until the final minute. 

Then sacrifices were made, not only individual team sacrifices, but likely personal financial sacrifices, too, to get this revenue-sharing plan okayed so the NFLPA's proposal could be okayed. 

In the end, both were accomplished. 

"We couldn't walk out of this building if we didn't have a deal," Jones said walking to the elevator after an exhausting, taxing and ultimately sort of expensive day. "I would have hung my head." 

And maybe even the league.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

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