The Jerry Jones and Roger Goodell Ramjet Blasts Off Trash Talk

I remember watching the Roger Ramjet cartoon as a kid. It was stupid, but, hey, as a kid it was fun. I had completely forgotten about it since then until I got a call one night that a DWI task force had a high dollar good client of my firm, and friend to boot, in custody and wanting to know if I would like to come retrieve him as opposed to him getting booked. Yes, I said I’d be right down.

So, when I get there, I have a chat with the arresting officer about why client was stopped and how bad he did. The punchline here is, when asked to do a common, but non-standard, field sobriety test of counting backwards from ten, the client performed as follows:

“10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1….Roger Ramjet Blast Off!! (Raising arms in the air on the last phrase)

That was not the, er, first clue to the officers, but cinched the deal. Sorry, I just love this story and had to tell it.

But now we have a couple of other cartoon characters blasting off in the world of sports. Jerry Jones and Roger Goodell. If you have not seen it, there was an absolutely fascinating dive into the Roger Goodell/Jerry Jones spat roiling the NFL currently, done by the excellent Don Van Natta and Seth Wickersham for ESPN The Magazine (and I believe Outside the Lines too):

The line went quiet. Seconds passed. Goodell’s decision was an unconscionable violation of trust, Jones later told associates, because he believed that the commissioner had assured him this past spring that there would be no suspension. Jones saw in Elliott a genuine opportunity, a player so good that he had made Jones believe that this year he just might win a Super Bowl for the first time since 1996. His anger was palpable. Finally, according to sources with direct knowledge of the call, Jones broke the silence. He aimed his words not only at Goodell’s decision but also at his role as judge, jury and executioner in the case.

“I’m gonna come after you with everything I have,” Jones said. Then he mentioned Deflategate. “If you think Bob Kraft came after you hard, Bob Kraft is a p—y compared to what I’m going to do.”
For years, America’s most powerful sports owner has heaped praise on America’s most powerful commissioner for being a visionary, a “grow-the-pie thinker.” Jones, now 75, uses a cost-benefit analysis to measure the value of many relationships, and as the NFL grew from a $6 billion-a-year to a $14 billion-a-year enterprise under Goodell, their relationship seemed strong. But then Goodell suspended Elliott, and it’s only gotten nastier since, with that decision clarifying Jones’ long-standing worries about Goodell’s leadership, his current total annual compensation of $42 million, and the approval process for a contract extension expected to pay even more, according to documents and nearly two dozen interviews by Outside the Lines with owners, league and team executives and lawyers, and union leaders. Trust among owners and among senior executives inside the league office has all but evaporated. In early November, when Jones threatened to sue his fellow owners and the league to stop progress on Goodell’s next contract, Falcons owner and compensation committee chairman Arthur Blank told Jones, “This is not how we do things in the NFL.”

Trust me, these partial blurbs are just scratching the surface of Van Natta and Wickersham’s work here. Go read it, all of it, it is seriously worth it.

I was among a group of people, including several prominent sports lawyers, who followed Deflategate in minute detail (seriously, like hour by hour!), and, more recently, the Zeke Elliot case that stands at the root of Jerry Jones narcissistic and petulant beef currently. But, when you come down to it, the problem is the binding language of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL and the NFL Player’s Association. The CBA, especially Article 46 thereof, gives the Commissioner, or his designate, ridiculously broad powers that are, especially after the Brady decision in the 2nd Circuit, nearly unreviewable even by federal courts. Deadspin has a piece that delves into the Article 46 CBA power quite well. And, again, well worth a read if you are still interested.

Jerry Jones enthusiastically cheered Goodell on when the commissioner and league were after Tom Brady and the Patriots. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, he has turned on a dime to lash out like Trump on a 3 in the morning tweet binge. Will be fascinating to see how this plays out, and what the other owners will do.

Okay, off to this week’s games we go. But will be framed slightly differently this week. Motorsport is going to lead. If you have been here for a while with us at Emptywheel, and especially Trash Talk, you know Formula One coverage is a staple. I do not follow them as much, but there are actually other forms of auto racing than just F1. There are tectonic changes occurring in NASCAR.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is retiring. Junior never accumulated the overall record his father did, but he is, without question, the glue that kept the sport together and making money hand over fist after his Intimidator father passed away. And, let’s be honest, Junior has a record most drivers would kill for. 26 wins, 260 top ten finishes and 15 poles. Maybe more notably, he won the Daytona 500 twice…ten years apart. But, most important, he was always an amiable and available front man for his sport, and did so over a period when they desperately needed that. There is no way to not love the guy. Be well and enjoy the next phase of your life Junior.

The next is Danica Patrick. She too is retiring from NASCAR, where she has been since 2011. Danica has nowhere near the record of success as Junior, but has had a truly remarkable and ground changing career. No woman has ever reached the sustained run in major motorsports, popular acclaim and visibility. None. Ever. Danica is a truly transformational figure, and ought be remembered as such. I am getting old now, but to my mind, there are only two other women in the history of auto racing that even come close.

The first is the great Denise McCluggage. You have probably never heard of her. You should. Denise was a force of nature and one of the truly nicest people ever. She strapped on a white helmet with pink dots, and raced like hell against “the boys” when, back in the old days, that just was not done. And they respected the hell out of her for it. Some of those names are listed in her NYT obituary, which really paints the picture of an incomparable life, including her time as a journalist, founding editor of Autoweek and….skier par extraordinaire. I had the pleasure of being around Denise a few times, what an incredible woman, what an incredible person.

The second I want to note is Lyn St. James. You probably do not know her either. Even including Danica, Lyn St. James is, for my buck, still the most skilled female auto racer I have ever seen. I am probably getting into the weeds here a bit, but it is important to understand just how far Danica Patrick has taken the concept and normalized it. If Lyn had had the opportunities and sponsorship Danica did, the motorsports world would look quite different now. Yes, she was that good.

Lyn St. James is an American former racecar driver. She competed in the IndyCar series, with eleven CART and five Indy Racing League starts to her name. St. James is one of nine women who have qualified for the Indianapolis 500, and became the first woman to win the Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year award. She also has two victories at the 24 Hours of Daytona, and one win at the 12 Hours of Sebring. Additionally she has competed in endurance racing in Europe, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 24 Hours of Nürburgring; in the latter, her team placed first and second in class in 1979.

That blurb is from Wiki, and cannot possibly relate what a driver, with breadth of experience Lyn was. She was ridiculously good at her craft. Had she been given truly competitive equipment in IndyCar or F1 at the time, she would have been absolutely capable of winning.

To sum up, Junior and Danica Patrick are seminal drivers in the scheme of things. You cannot equate the two on the track, but off track it is a closer call. There will be generations of girls that will come forth because of Patrick, and she embraced that role. Earnhardt seems retired after Homestead. Danica will race in both Daytona and the Indianapolis 500 before walking off to the next phase. I tuly hopes she gets the best equipment possible for that attempt. These are both lions that need to be appreciated for just how significant they are, not just now, but in the annals of history.

So, these are the stories I care about today. Where are you at? This is, as always, an open discussion forum. Thank you for participating.

As almost a PS, Michigan at Wisconsin is important. Not for MI, but if the Badgers want a shot at the playoffs, they have to hold serve here. Shockingly, at this late point in the season, not so many other games that immediately stand out before they start being played.

In the NFL, sometimes the common wisdom is right, in that regard, Pats and Raiders in Mexico City is truly interesting. The other really notable game is Rams at Vikings. Never would have thought it at start of season, but the Rams may be the better team. Not that I am going to sleep on the Vikes at home with that giant Norske horn they blow. In a lesser game, but still important, Ravens at Packers is one to keep your eye on. Ravens are, um, inconsistent. Packers have no Rodgers. Given those things, this is a very fair fight. The Cheesers need this one, and it is Lambeau. If they cannot win here, they are truly done.

Alright, sorry. This ran a little long. Enjoy the games this weekend folks. Hope you all have someone to talk to. And that lovely music message comes this week from the Tedeschi Trucks Band. It is really a great version they do here. Have a great weekend.

30 replies
  1. bmaz says:

    Ooof, the UVA at Miamia Hurricanes game looks surprisingly close (UVA  ahead 21-14) at halftime. That would be a stunner.

  2. posaune says:

    Totally, TOTALLY OT here, but I have to share this with this very special group of thinkers:

    Yesterday, after 8 years of litigation (and $136K) we finalized the adoption of our son, who came to us on Christmas Eve 2009 as a foster child!  No, it wasn’t the birth parent contesting, but an essentially corrupt county bureaucrat who insisted on permanent foster care for him in order to “share” in the SSI support.

    We prevailed with a team of 20 + providers and 4 attorneys who really and truly cared about this child and testified in a variety of the 68 hearings held over the years.   Now, he is truly ours, and a teenager besides.

    Meanwhile, the Right-to-Life, Strip-Women-of-All-Rights bunch in the House, proposes to kill contraception, AND kill the Adoption Tax Credit AND zero out Title IV-E adoption subsidies for multiply-handicapped adoptees.   F—ing unbelievable!

    Thanks for all the deep and inspired thinking here — it is a true gift to all of us!


  3. Jim White says:

    My only hope for the Jones-Goodell fight is that they somehow find a way to destroy one another while causing minimal damage to the players.

    My NFL boycott just got stronger. Word came out yesterday that back in March of 2016, Rapeis Winston was in bmaz’s neck of the woods and grabbed the crotch of his Uber driver. He apparently has been banned from all of Uber, but will the NFL take any action? And why have we not heard about this until now? Winston being a player in good standing in the league after all of his known lawbreaking while Kaepernick is still colluded out of the league for caring about young black males who are killed and otherwise ground up by our legal system just drives home the moral depravity of today’s NFL.

    The Gators have their first home game after firing McElwain today. It’s only UAB, but even this is likely to be a very close game that they easily could lose. What a horrible season.

    But the Gator basketball team is looking like the real deal. It’s against poor competition so far, but in their first two games they are averaging 112 points a game. The Gators did about 10 points better than #2 Michigan State against common opponent North Florida. They have a new Russian colluder who can really shoot the three. We will find out how good they are this week as they head to Portland for the Phil Knight fest with a ton of good teams in the tourney.

    And my Gator baseball team went to the White House yesterday. They took some pics in the Oval Office without the Trumpster there and then later did a staged photo with Marcy’s neighbor (our illustrious Education Secretary) and the Molester in Chief, but at least in the photo it doesn’t look like they gave him a Gator shirt or hat. That’s a minor comfort.

  4. Ed Walker says:

    Like Jim, I’m boycotting the Irish, my team for decades. The University is a disgrace; it’s treatment of women on the flimsy religious claim is disgusting and repulsive, and just the latest example of the religious fanaticism that has infected a once proud liberal education tradition.

    • bmaz says:

      The “evangelicals” in Alabama do not accept this. Nope. They and Roy and Kayla Moore say they won. That is what god would want.

  5. dakine01 says:

    I agree with Jim & Ed, wishing there were some way that Goodell & Jones could both lose.

    As expected, Jaw-Jah took care of the Wildcats handily.  Kentucky was def not helped by the Dawgs losing last week.

    I had checked last night’s Hilltopper – Middle TN game and it was 7 – 3 ‘Toppers early in the 3rd quarter.  This morning I saw the final of 41 – 38 ‘Toppers in triple overtime. Apparently no D in the 4th and OTs.

    • bmaz says:

      The internet is a weird and uneven thing sometimes. But I guarantee you all of us here know how long you have been around. We seriously do share and celebrate your joy. Congrats, and well done.

      • posaune says:

        Thanks, bmaz!   Have to add that our attorneys (esp here in DC) were outstanding human beings, totally devoted to this case and the well-being of our child himself.   In addition, of course, to being very, very strategic thinkers about this complex cross-jurisdictional case involving multiple state, county, city and federal agencies.    It is really people like these, so ethical and committed, that make us see that wrongs can be righted.

        Oh, and the court was able to do the finalization hearing by video, and all of our 20+ providers attended with our attorneys. Extremely moving.

  6. bmaz says:

    Jim, can you explain how the classless assholes of Kansas refused to shake Baker Mayfield and the Sooners hand before the game? And with two children in between that would be affected?

  7. Pete says:

    My congrats as well to @posaune Unbelievable (and unreal) effort.

    I see the UofM got back to playing their ketchup brand of football. Butt (wait for it) the Badgers played pretty darn good. What with the patsies the Tide, Tigers, and Sooners destroyed it sets up an interesting CFP poll the last two weeks:

    Badgers – at home v Gophers then B10 v OSU in the B10 championship
    Sooners – at home v West VA then probably a rematch with a pissed off TCU in the B12 championship
    The U – away at Pitt (I mean who knows with these guys) and then Tigers in the ACC championship
    Tigers – away at USC (no not that USC the y’all one) and then The U in the ACC championship
    Tide – at Auburn and then bulldogs for the SEC championship. No more mercers for you..

    Now let us slide (ahem) into the 5th anniversary of the Mark Sanchez BUTT FUMBLE as bmaz reminds us in the Twitterverse.

    Only five years – seems like a butt load of time ago. Where was I…probably then, as now, crying over another Fins failure.

    I still say Sanchez did hit the hole hard. A recent byline on Sanchez notes his impact on mentoring in Chicago. Bears play Lions – Butt Fumble 2 by Sanchez student? Kind of thing Vegas might have odds on.


  8. scribe says:

    This Stiller fan is still basking in the afterglow of the Black and Gold demolishing the [s]Oilers[s] Titans this past Thursday night. It’s been a long week for me, having been called out of town for work, travelling and so on. Big Ben and Company made it all better when they tore it up. And now they have 10 days off (well, a week as of today) until they take on the Mr. Discount Doublecheck-less Cheesers on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

    A couple weeks later, and Biebs, Cheatin’ Bill, and the Cheating Cheaters of Cheatertown head into the Ketchup Bottle. They’ll be having a matchup which, as of today, looks like it will wind up deciding home field advantage in the AFC.

    I have no doubt the Rooneys won’t even think of asking Mr. Kraft whether he’s a pussy. They, and Kraft, have too much class for that.

    The interesting thing is that, in the extensive article detailing just the depth and breadth of Jerry Jones’ petty venality, there is nary a mention of the positions – if any – taken by The Rooneys and The Maras in the Civil War. Jones telling King Roger the Clown what he said – on speaker – was the first rounds landing on Fort Sumter. Or maybe the Yorks and Lancasters getting their shields, swords and armor down off the walls. The Rooneys and Maras, ultimately, will decide the fate of King Roger the Clown – whether he continues to wear the crown – and of Jackass Jerry.

    A commenter I heard on one of the sports-talk stations made a salient point: on a percentage-of-sales basis, King Roger’s salary is considerably less than that of the night manager at your local Denny’s. Even at his ask for the new contract. Given the obscene size of his existing (and sought) compensation, that speaks more to the excessive amount of money we lavish on sports in this country, rather than on the relative worth of what he palms off as managerial skill.
    You can only eat so much steak.

    Would that the cheapshit bastards who own and run the League would give lifetime health insurance to their players, who give up their bodies for relative chump change. Not gonna happen.

    But I join the folks who hope for Goodell and Jones to wind up destroying each other. I’m thinking along the lines of that episode of the original Star Trek, wherein some guy and his alternative evil twin wind up trapped in eternity, wrestling each other to a death neither will ever get. A suitable end for King Roger and Jerry, all while Roger’s neighbors at his seaside clifftop lair continue to shun him because they’re Patsies fans first.

    And, in today’s games, I’m looking forward to the Iggles-Owboys hoping the Iggles’ D rolls into Jerryworld to give Dak and friends more of the treatment they got last week, only this time in their own house. At the rate the Owboys season is imploding and assuming even mediocre Iggle play from here on out, by the time Elliott gets back (From whatever furrin country he’s ducked off to) the New Years’ Eve matchup between these two teams will be a footnote marked more by resolving the question “can you hit the field with this iceball?” than deciding playoff seeding. If the playoffs started today the Owboys would be at least 2, and maybe as many as 4, slots out of the Wild Card.

    And that makes me smile.

      • Ed Walker says:

        Thanks for the link. I sometimes forget how much I loved Zappa; he got me through my first encounter with the Army. I could sing the entire Freak Out album once upon a time.

        I once found a biography of Zappa, but I thought it was too expensive, and I could pick it up cheaper later. Sadly no.
        One of his favorite composers was Edgar Varese, and this piece:

        • bmaz says:

          I won a fundraising thing for jazz band back in high school. Prize was a copy of Overnight Sensation. With Montana on it.

          I was lit up. So, went to see Zappa at the Celebrity Theatre that summer. He was all that. And one of the best guitar players I have ever seen. To this day. I am a bit of a knowledgeable critic as to rock guitar players, and can easily say Zappa is one of, if not the, most underrated ones ever.

  9. bmaz says:

    The Skins have done everything to give this game away to Drew Freaking Brees and the Saints. And it looks like they are going to in spite of ought having won it. Jeebus.

  10. scribe says:

    Watching SNF  and its little blurb about Jerry getting his “Hall of Fame Ring” tonight, I’m left to wonder:  when one is a single member of a circle of 32 allegedly-equal owners, and stands before that circle of equals  to make a speech about the interests of the members of that circle, in which one then declares himself to be the “leading owner” how do the other owners, scarred veterans of boardroom battles all, then look at the one who declared himself primus inter pares?  As a new leader, or as an existential threat to their rights as owners?

    Far more likely “threat”, one to be eliminated.

    But the way I see it I expect the Football Gods, watching Jackass Jerry’s arrogance and hubris-fueled antics from above as they do, already have his comeuppance and downfall in train, one which will unfold with even greater hilarity and irony in due time.  I’m betting Jerry never gets that 4th Lombardi.

    Of course, when Stalin took an approach similar to Jerry’s, it took 30 years and tens of millions of deaths.  But he fell, too.

  11. burnt says:

    Delurking to bask in the warm afterglow of an Eagles beatdown of the ‘boys. It’s the only half of an NFL game I’ve watched this season. I smiled every time the cameras cut to Jones. It must hurt to be that far behind the iggles in the divisional race.

  12. Bay State Librul says:

    Scribe is so obsessed with the Pats that he is seeing land sharks.
    Both teams are 8-2, but come December 17th at the Heinz, John Kerry’s Pats will once again make mild cheese of the Steelers.
    “Belichick and Brady are so far inside the heads of so many Pittsburghers”, the Sporting News argues, “it’s a wonder someone isn’t sketching their caricatures onto the wall at Primanti Bros. in the Strip.”
    You want smart, thoughtful, and savvy players, not crybaby quarterbacks complaining about playing on Thursday night.
    The December chill will come early in Pittsburgh.
    There will be no happy hour at your sandwich shop, only a Has-Ben burger.
    Come to Cheers instead.

  13. bmaz says:


    But, I dunno, by all appearances, the Stillers are gelling and on the same late season roll as the Pats. It could be one hell of a battle, and I would not discount the Heinz factor.

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