Jerry Jones Says He's Doing Players a Favor With His Anthem Protest Stance

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
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During his weekly radio show Tuesday, Jerry Jones doubled down on his stance that Cowboys players will not play for the team if they choose to protest before games in a way that, in Jones' words, disrespects the United States' flag or national anthem. The Cowboys owner, the first in the league to signal that his players would be subject to discipline were they to sit or kneel, said that in addition to patriotism, his stance on the anthem and flag is about clearing up ambiguity for his players.

"I want them to have the ammunition to tell anybody that asks them to do anything otherwise or demonstrate during that period of time, that 'I don't get to play if I do that,'" Jones said. "This is a workplace issue. I don't want there to be any misunderstanding as to where I want the personnel of the Cowboys to be when we're at the No. 1 workplace we have, which is the field and the sideline on game day."

He said he was doing his job by being direct. "I want to do everybody a service, as I should in leading the team, and let's be really clear about what our expectations are," he said.

Jones, who took a knee with his players before the Cowboys' Sept. 25 game against the Cardinals, declined to say what he would do if a star player protested during the anthem. He made it clear that he intends to follow through if any player disrespects the flag, an act Jones said media and fans will "recognize when [they] see it."

He says he expects players on the field "to honor and stand for the flag in the way that a lot of our fans feel that you should. If that's not the case, then you won't play. That's nothing new, as far as that being my wish or the way I want the Cowboys."

At this point, it seems unlikely that Jones, who received support from President Donald Trump on Monday night for his stance on the flag and anthem, will be forced to put his on-field product where his mouth is. Since Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid began kneeling during the anthem in 2016, no Cowboys player has knelt or sat on the bench during the song.

On Sunday, defensive linemen Demontre Moore and David Irving raised their fists after the anthem, but Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Monday that their actions would not be subject to discipline by the team. 

NFL policy, contained in the league's game operations manual, says players "should" stand for the anthem but doesn't set a hard and fast requirement. In a letter sent to Jones and the rest of the NFL's team owners Tuesday, Roger Goodell said he hopes the league can come up with a comprehensive policy during its fall meetings, scheduled for Oct. 17-18.

"Like many of our fans," Goodell wrote in the letter, "we believe that everyone should stand for the national anthem. It is an important moment in our game. We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us."

Goodell said he hopes players will choose another outlet to protest racial and social injustices in the United States.

"We also care deeply about our players and respect their opinions and concerns about critical social issues," he wrote. "The controversy over the Anthem is a barrier to having honest conversations and making real progress on the underlying issues. We need to move past this controversy, and we want to do that together with our players."

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