Jerry Jones vs. Ezekiel Elliott Was NFL Masterpiece Theatre Personified

Jerry Jones is a genius. I think it’s official now. His fierce reputation in the boardroom and at the negotiating table is the stuff of legends. His showmanship was no more apparent than in 2017 when he took a knee during the National Anthem, supported QB Dak Prescott’s anti-anthem remarks and then was complicit in blackballing Colin Kaepernick, going as far as to threaten Cowboys players not to kneel or “suffer the consequences”.   

You might not dig his style, but he’s a master marketer and skilled tactician. Today’s JR Ewing, the character from the drama-filled, 80s hit series “Dallas.” He just got Ezekiel Elliott paid like a mug and saved face by acting as if he was playing hardball. 

Understudy, Elliott appears to have learned well and is finally mastering the game of economics. With such a resounding payday, he not only set the market but also kept with the recent theme of player empowerment, adding his chapter to the pro athlete revolution. 

Together, they put on a show that captivated the Dallas Cowboys shills in national media and became the story of the offseason. It was Jerry Jones’ theatrics at its best and Zeke was a willing accomplice in the headline-grabbing holdout that ended with Zeke getting a bag-snatching six-year extension worth more than $90 million. He also got $50 million of that guaranteed, making him the highest-paid running back in the game. 

So Zeke got exactly what he wanted and deserved in the end. The NFL fans that were discrediting Zeke were taken for a ride because Jones was always going to pay that bread. 

The days of owners and players getting into nasty holdouts is gone. 

Two things will happen. The team will trade you or sideline you if they feel you aren’t worth the scratch. See Jadaveon Clowney to Seattle. See Melvin Gordon and his failed holdout attempt in San Diego. 

All of the fans and social media bandits talking smack about Zeke and the declining value of NFL running backs fell for the okey-doke. That was the plan all along because Jones knows how to milk his enterprise and stay in the headlines. 

 A man who borrowed a million dollars from Jimmy Hoffa’s Teamsters union to open up a string of Shakey’s Pizza Parlor restaurants in Missouri and flipped that into a net worth of $6.8 billion, isn’t the type to miss many details, even at 76 years old. 

I wouldn’t be surprised if Jones and Zeke collaborated on the idea. It had too many potential positives to ignore. The media attention, the way fans were split on who to support during the holdout creating anxiety and anticipation about the season. The way Jerry played the villain to perfection, praising rookie running back Tony Pollard at every opportunity. Taunting Zeke like Muhammad Ali selling a prizefight. Even hinting that he’d be willing to go to war with the rookie if Zeke didn’t play under a disrespectful contract that would have paid him about $13 million over the next two seasons. 

Now he’s sitting on $103 million over eight years.

Zeke was equally impressive in the sell, creating more drama when he left to go workout in Cabo and also leaked a story to the media about him not being happy with what Jerry was saying in the press. 

The sports shows and podcasts feasted on the preseason filler and endlessly pontificated on the matter, all the while knowing Zeke would be in camp and a deal would be done. It was the perfectly scripted drama, with the owner, player, fans and media all complicit in keeping the narrative going and the excitement in football until the season officially jumps off. 

If Jones and Zeke truly constructed this plan, then they are a better team than any of us ever imagined. Jones went to bat for Zeke plenty of times throughout his off the field drama and his battle against a six-game suspension levied by the NFL. 

For Jones and the Cowboys, any press is good press. Just stay in the headlines. Build the brand. 

Whether it be Stephen A. Smith labeling himself the No. 1 Cowboys hater or other announcers who optimistically use the words “Dallas” and “Super Bowl” in the same sentence, Jones knows how to stir it up and keep his empire in the forefront of everyone’s mind.  

The Dallas Cowboys just won the NFL offseason. 

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