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NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue has rebuked Dallas Cowboys

August 11, 1995

DALLAS (AP) _ NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue has rebuked Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones for the 10-year, $40 million deal with Pepsi-Cola that Jones announced last week.

The arrangement circumvented the spirit of a league contract with Coca-Cola for exclusive marketing and promotional rights.

``The success of the league has really been to operate as a partnership,″ Tagliabue told The Dallas Morning News.

``That is what distinguishes us from baseball and some of the other leagues. Once people start doing things that are self-serving and shortsighted, you have some serious problems,″ Tagliabue said.

``Concerning Pepsi, obviously a club can have pouring rights in a stadium for cola or beer. If that’s what the Pepsi deal is, it’s not a problem. But if it becomes knock-off or ambush marketing of a league sponsor, that’s a different kettle of fish.″

Tagliabue was disturbed more by Jones’ threat to withdraw the Cowboys from affiliation with NFL Properties.

``Ultimately, all logos, the helmet and star associated with the Cowboys, will be handled by the Dallas Cowboys and not the marketing arm of the NFL,″ Jones promised last week.

Abroad in Japan for a preseason game last week, the commissioner hasn’t spoken with Jones. But Tagliabue said he had heard from other owners, who are unhappy with Jones’ stance.

``The key thing is not so much the pouring rights, but some of the rhetoric attacking NFL Properties and, `Don’t go to the league, come to the Cowboys.′ At best, something like this is shortsighted and self-serving. At worst, it’s very unfair and destructive,″ Tagliabue said.

Coke began fighting back today by announcing an endorsement deal with Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman. Coke has sponsored Aikman’s charity golf tournament the last four years.

Guy Thomas, Coke’s vice-president and general manager for North Texas, said the soft drink company already had been dealing with Aikman before Jones’ Pepsi announcement. He admitted, however, that plans were moved up once Jones signed with Pepsi.

Thomas, who would not give the length of financial details of the Aikman deal, said he expects to soon announce plans to work with at least one more player. Coke already has does some promotions with running back Emmitt Smith.

Because the Pepsi deal is technically for Texas Stadium, Coke still calls itself ``the official soft drink of the Dallas Cowboys″ and can use players in its promotions.

The commissioner said Jones is challenging league philosophy and institutions that fail to mesh with his own personal desires.

``The Cowboys are where they are because of a league institution called the draft, which is what produced Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irwin. Institutions of that type take a team that was 1-15 to where it is. You end up with a philosophy of `What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine.′ That’s why I think it’s very self-serving and shortsighted,″ Tagliabue said.

Since the Cowboys are responsible for selling one-third of NFL merchandise, Jones has promoted an incentive plan to Tagliabue during a March meeting of owners. The key to his plan is whatever a team sells, it keeps instead of sharing equally.

The institution most endangered under Jones’ incentive plan would be revenue sharing and salary cap accord under the collective bargaining agreement, Tagliabue said.

Jones’ plan would give the Cowboys an edge under the agreement to sign players, the commissioner said, because Jones would have the cash that other teams wouldn’t have.

``He can get this or that free agent, whether it’s Deion Sanders or somebody else,″ Tagliabue said.

``It’s odd, because I think Jerry feels the CBA is something that we should work to continue with the Players Association. But here he is indirectly attacking the key underpinnings of the entire agreement.″

When a writer asked if Jones’ defiant attitude had reached the point where he didn’t believe anyone could stop him, Tagliabue replied, ``I think that was clear as far back as March at our league meetings.″

The commissioner said he will be paying attention not only to what Jones might do next, but ``what he’s already done. We’ll be reading the fine print.″

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