Statement from Jerry Jones

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones just checked in with the following statement on the death of Gene Upshaw:

"Gene Upshaw was a friend and someone I will miss dearly. Few men have made more contributions to the National Football League. I enjoyed working with Gene. He brought all of the competitive qualities of a Hall of Fame offensive lineman to the negotiating table. He cared about so many people, and he loved the game.

All of the young men who play in the NFL today owe a great debt to Gene, and all of us who enjoy the success of the NFL will be forever indebted to Gene."

During the labor negotiations in 2006, I remember Jones saying to me, "Gene's beating us up."

At the time, I sort of thought Jones was propping up Upshaw because he'd always been accused of being too close to NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue. But when it took the owners about 30 minutes to decide they'd signed a bad deal, I wasn't so sure.

I think players and owners are going to say a lot of respectful things over the next few days -- as they should. But rest assured that player reps are on their phones this afternoon discussing who will succeed Upshaw.