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Roger Goodell forces Jerry Jones to pay millions

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    Dallas Cowboys team owner Jerry Jones stands on the field as the team warms up.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has won the latest tug-of-war with Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys.

Despite appealing to Goodell for leniency, Jones will have to pay a significant portion of the league’s legal fees, which paid for lawyers to defend six owners that Jones had threatened to sue.

Jones will also have to cover the league’s legal costs associated with Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, whose appeal of a six-game suspension forced the NFL to argue its case in federal court.

“After a hearing with the Commissioner and the Finance Committee, the matter of the reimbursement of legal fees has been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties,” the league said in a statement today, without citing any specifics.

Jones must pay the league about $2 million, according to three people with direct knowledge of the decision who were not authorized to speak publicly about it.

Jones and the commissioner met on Monday in Florida, where many owners were meeting. The league made its decision on Jones’ appeal today.

ESPN was the first to report the league’s decision.

Last week, The New York Times reported that most owners wanted Goodell to penalize Jones for trying to derail negotiations to renew Goodell’s contract, and for his legal defense of Elliott, who was suspended after the NFL investigated domestic-assault allegations.

In November, Jones hired the high-profile lawyer David Boies and said he was prepared to sue the six owners on the league’s compensation committee, which had been working for months on extending Goodell’s contract.

The Cowboys also added their name to court filings by the NFL Players Association, which went to court to try to overturn Elliott’s suspension.

A provision was added to the league’s constitution more than two decades ago that allows the commissioner to demand the reimbursement of legal fees from owners who cause legal problems for the league.

Though Goodell wanted to avoid the appearance of seeking retribution against Jones for meddling in his contract negotiations, the commissioner had little choice but to uphold the league’s long-standing policy of making sure owners are penalized for taking legal action against the league or other owners.

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