Cowboys owner Jones fined $25K for ref comments

Updated: September 28, 2008, 10:05 PM ET
By Chris Mortensen | ESPN.com

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton's pending appeal of a $15,000 fine for his criticism of game officials may have lost some momentum, because Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has been fined $25,000 by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for the same offense.

Jones was fined last week after he criticized referee Ed Hochuli for his overall performance following Hochuli's gaffe in Week 2 against the San Diego Chargers.

"Maybe the answer is to tell people like that, 'Keep that whistle out of your mouth,'" Jones said on his weekly radio show. "My gut here is the emphasis is going to have to be taking officials like that and getting somebody else if they're going to be penalty prone."

Jones' $25,000 fine was a greater amount because owners are held to a higher standard. Steelers owner Dan Rooney was fined $25,000 last year for his criticism of game officials. Ironically, Jones and Rooney are strong internal supporters of Goodell.

"I stepped out of bounds," Jones told ESPN's Ed Werder on Sunday. "Roger [Goodell] is doing his job."

Payton was fined for criticizing officials Monday after the Saints' 34-32 loss last Sunday in Denver. Payton planned to appeal because be believed Jones and Chargers coach Norv Turner had not been fined for similar comments.

While Jones was penalized, Turner was not because Goodell determined that Turner's one-word postgame description of Hochuli's blown call as "unacceptable" was his only negative remark.

The day after the Chargers-Broncos game, Turner publicly deferred questions to the league office and declined to comment further on Hochuli, which Goodell determined is the appropriate conduct.

Hochuli was at the center of another questionable call Sunday, flagging Julius Peppers for a roughing-the-passer penalty that wiped out Carolina's interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter against Atlanta, though the Panthers went on to a 24-9 victory.

Chris Mortensen is a Senior NFL Analyst for ESPN. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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