NFL Winter Meetings : League Approval of Cowboy Sale Is Expected Despite Snag

Times Staff Writer

The Dallas Cowboys were priced at an estimated $140 million--including the value of their Texas Stadium lease--when they changed hands last month.

But their new majority owner, Arkansas oilman Jerry Jones, has put up less than half that, sources said at the National Football League’s desert meeting Monday.

And a snag has developed in plans for quick league approval of the Jones syndicate, which had been expected by now.

The NFL reportedly has asked Jones for more information on some of his partners and on other aspects of the deal, which the league’s finance committee has been examining since Sunday.


“Everything looks positive (for eventual approval),” Commissioner Pete Rozelle said.

But it hasn’t happened yet.

The Cowboys and their real estate are valued at $90 million, and their long-term stadium lease is believed to be worth another $50 million.

The Arkansas group bought 70% of the package, and Jones has much of that. But his personal holding amounts to fewer than 50% of the franchise.

Veteran minority owner Ed Smith still has 27%. The other 3% is held by Tex Schramm, the club’s president for 29 years before the takeover by Jones, who is doing the speaking for the Cowboys now.

Rozelle has nominated Schramm for a new job as commissioner of the NFL’s proposed new international league, which is expected to begin play in the 1990s with five or six franchises in Europe and a matching five or six in North America, mostly in the United States.

Strongly backed by Rozelle and other pro football leaders, the new league is projected as the springtime extension of the NFL.

Playoffs are projected for July each year.

The motivating idea is increased TV revenue when the NFL is, in effect, a year-round, world-wide game. A league source said that both NBC and ABC have shown “tremendous interest.”

“Tex would do an excellent job, although (the decision) is up to him and Jerry Jones,” Rozelle said.

At the moment, Schramm, who founded the Cowboys in 1960, is serving Jones as an adviser.

NFL spokesman Joe Browne said that an internationally based spring league would be useful in developing club executives as well as players, field officials and others.

The 28 club owners, who legislate NFL rules, voted to retain two recent ones that have proved controversial--the grasp-and-control rule and the running-into-the-punter rule.

Despite the fact that game officials differ on whether to award a sack when a passer seems to have been grasped and controlled--instead of downed--the owners accepted a competition committee recommendation to keep the rule.

They also approved a recommendation to keep different penalties for running-into-the-punter and roughing-the-punter.

NFL Notes

Art Modell, who heads both the Cleveland Browns and the league’s TV committee, has completed plans for an NFL game of the week in England this year throughout the regular season.

Buffalo, formerly a pro football wasteland, led the league in paid attendance last season after Coach Marv Levy and General Manager Bill Polian had turned the Bills around. . . . If Oklahoma State halfback Barry Sanders, the Heisman Trophy winner, wants to play pro football this year, the league will consider his application, Commissioner Pete Rozelle said. Although Sanders, as a college junior, is ineligible for pro football, federal courts don’t recognize NFL rules.

The Raiders, conducting business as usual during convention week, were reportedly on the verge of signing another free agent linebacker, Jackie Shipp of the Miami Dolphins, the 14th college player drafted in 1984, his last year at Oklahoma. Otis Wilson, a veteran Chicago Bears linebacker, moved to the Raiders last week. In Chicago in recent years, Wilson has been less disappointing than Shipp.

Jimmy Johnson, who replaced Tom Landry at Dallas last month, said he still hasn’t decided whether to draft UCLA quarterback Troy Aikman on the first round next month. Referring to a vote in Aikman’s favor by Gil Brandt, the Cowboys’ vice president and chief scout, Johnson said: “It would be easy to just accept what others have said, but I want to make the right decision, not a fast decision.”