Jerry Jones Takes a Knee; Twitter Explodes

Jerry Jones kneels with his players before the Dallas Cowboys game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Jerry Jones kneels with his players before the Dallas Cowboys game against the Arizona Cardinals. Dallas Cowboys via Twitter
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and the rest of the team each took a knee before the national anthem at Monday night's game against the Arizona Cardinals. The demonstration, after which the team stood and linked arms during the anthem, was a show of solidarity in the face of comments made by President Donald Trump over the weekend. Trump said that players who protest during the anthem are "sons of bitches" who should be fired by NFL owners.

After the game, Jones credited the team's players and coaches for standing together without disrespecting the anthem or the flag. "I've never been prouder of my association with players and a coaching staff as I am with this crew," Jones said. "We all agreed that our players wanted to make a statement about unity and equality. They were very much aware that [the timing of the statement] can not only lead to criticism but controversy."

Jason Garrett said the team had been planning Monday's display for two days. "The objective as much as anything else was to somehow, some way to demonstrate unity and equality without anyway involving the flag or the national the anthem."

Across social media, the reactions to the Cowboys' demonstration came fast. Former Cowboys defensive tackle and Air Force veteran Chad Hennings, who criticized anthem protests Monday, said the Cowboys display was a good compromise. Firebrand Dallas conservative radio host Mark Davis said he was willing to let the Cowboys' protest go because they didn't kneel during "The Star-Spangled Banner" — as long as they don't do it again. Others, including The Ringer's Jason Gallagher and SB Nation's Spencer Hall, were amused by Jones' sudden turn to social justice advocacy.  Many on Twitter, like actor Michael Ian Black and New York Times cultural reporter Dave Itzkoff, were grossed out by their positive feelings toward Jones. Black Sports Online credited Jones with figuring out how to have his cake and eat it, too, with regard to Trump's statements, the subsequent protests and the backlash that's followed players' decisions to fight back. Twitter users participating the the #boycottNFL hashtag that sprang up after Trump's comments were less than enthusiastic about the decision by Jones and the Cowboys. Some invoked last July's Dallas police ambush, tying to the team's demonstration as proof that Dallas is a city beholden to the Black Lives Matter movement. After the Cowboys' slow start, longtime local TV sports announcer Bill Jones said the team spent too much time planning the protest and not enough time preparing for the Cardinals.
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young

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