Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones made national news Sunday when he announced that Cowboys players would be expected to stand for the national anthem and show their respect for the flag. Today, he addressed the situation during a conversation with Shan Shariff and RJ Choppy on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas.
Jones started the discussion by offering praise to his players for the way they’ve shown their respect for the anthem and flag. The Cowboys owner said that he hoped the issue would go away but since it hadn’t, he felt it was important to clarify the team’s position and give members of the organization ammunition should others on the outside ask them to do things that could create further issues.
One point Jones tried to make is that he understands the country is dealing with social issues and players have strong feelings about them. He wasn’t looking to prevent them from expressing themselves but he simply didn’t want those issues becoming a focus during the national anthem.
“I know firsthand a player’s mind should be on nothing but what he’s going to do out on that football field” said Jones. “If we’re going to have any (protest), it needs to be before the anthem.”
The NFL Players Association released a statement yesterday which has created additional discussion about whether or not the NFL operating manual mandates or suggests that players should stand for the anthem. When asked about the suggested grey area in the manual, Jones explained why he disagrees with the NFLPA’s position.
“The intent of the NFL for years has been to stand for the anthem and show respect,” said Jones. “Respecting the flag has been in place for the Cowboys organization since I got here. If you look in our operating manual, this has been in it for 30 years. We’ve always stood for the flag.”
When asked whether his political beliefs and friendship with President Donald Trump influenced his decision, Jones added: “We’re addressing the issue in part because he’s (Trump) been very active in the issue. Because of that, I’ve drawn a line. I’m a friend of the President, but we don’t agree on many, many matters.”
Knowing that some will suggest the owner is being heavy handed, Jones explained the reasons behind his stance.
“My priority is the Dallas Cowboys. If I think something isn’t in the best interest of the Cowboys, I’m going to address it. This is where we work, and this is the expectation that we have while at work. If you don’t honor the flag in a way that our fans think you should, then you won’t play. I don’t want our fans to have to sit there and have angst over these issues. The flag comes ahead of all issues.”
The NFL has earned a lot of negative attention over this issue, putting franchise owners in a difficult position. If they refuse to support their players, it creates an uproar among those who feel peaceful protests should not be denied. One of those individuals is Jemele Hill of ESPN who was suspended for two weeks after encouraging Cowboys fans to steer clear of the team’s advertisers. That’s since been followed up by Reverend Al Sharpton calling for a boycott of ESPN over its decision of disciplining Hill.
On the other hand, there are many fans who are upset with the players for displaying what they consider disrespect during the anthem, which can also lead to tuning outs and an additional lack of support for the league’s teams and advertisers. Jones expressed what he considers the solution to that challenge.
“There is a debate about standing for the flag being disrespectful, so I am removing us from that debate so people don’t have to worry about what the Cowboys will do. There is no way that anybody can say that I’m not supportive of players and their issues. This time what’s best for the Cowboys is to stand for the flag.”
To hear Shan and RJ’s interview with the Cowboys owner, click here.