Don Van Natta Jr. sheds light on Jerry Jones-Robert Kraft 'Don't f— with me' exchange


The feud Tuesday in New York between Jerry Jones and Robert Kraft might have been the product of some long-held frustrations.

NFL owners got together on Tuesday for league meetings, and at one point some tension creeped in. According to ESPN’s Don Van Natta Jr. and Seth Wickersham, the Cowboys and Patriots owner briefly exchanged words during discussions about Roger Goodell’s contract.

Jones apparently is on an island about how the commissioner's contract should be handled. Jones’ stance is that Goodell’s contract should be tied more to performance, and that there should be a bonus plan where Goodell has to hit certain business targets. However, the motion to begin contract extension talks with Goodell passed 31-1, Jones being the lone dissenter.

"The sources said Kraft joined the overwhelming majority in strong support for the measure," the ESPN article said, "with Jones the lone dissenter in the owners-only session, eventually telling Kraft, "Don't f--- with me."

Appearing Wednesday on “Shan and RJ,” Van Natta shared what he knew about the Kraft-Jones exchange.

“Kraft is not as concerned about (Goodell’s contract as Jones),” Van Natta said. “Kraft wasn’t as concerned about it back in 2017, nor was (Falcons owner) Arthur Blank, who was the chairman of the compensation committee, and so they got into it. And as I understand it, Kraft was sort of saying like ‘Again? We’re dealing with this again?' And Jerry said to him ‘Don’t f– with me,’ and Kraft said ‘Excuse me?’ And then Jerry ended it himself, I guess turned it into a PG rating and sort of said don’t mess with me. …

“I know that Kraft and Jerry are – not only are they the two most powerful owners in the NFL, I think there is some rivalry there. Jerry beat Kraft to the Hall of Fame, that hurt Kraft. Believe me, that hurt Kraft. Jerry won that. And there is a lot of rivalry there, guys. So is it possible that don’t mess with me, don’t f– with me, there’s some stuff between those guys? Yeah. But the way Jerry is viewing Goodell, I was told last night by people close to Jerry, it’s not personal. They insist it is about the contract and the structure of the new contract.”

Jones was outspoken about Goodell’s contract back in the 2017 negotiations, so this hardly is a new development. It also was in 2017 that Jones went into the Hall of Fame, so the tension in New York seems like it was the result of things that had been festering for at least half a decade.

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