As Jerry Jones Takes Heat for Anthem Stance, Mark Cuban Tries to Have it Both Ways

Mark Cuban at TechCrunch 2014.
Mark Cuban at TechCrunch 2014. TechCrunch via WikiCommons
Dallas' prominent sports team owners are going in different directions when it comes to players protesting the national anthem. On Monday, leaders of Dallas' African-American community excoriated Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones for his stance that any Cowboys player protesting during the national anthem won't play for the team.

Later that day, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban took a more nuanced position after his team's practice.

"We're going to make a proactive effort to recognize that it's an important symbol for this country, but we're also going to recognize that what it stands for is the right for people to disagree and to stand up for your beliefs," Cuban told reporters. "This country was built on people disagreeing."

Cuban's plan for the upcoming Mavs season includes creating a patriotic video to air before games. Cuban says he hopes the team's players will contribute to the montage, so that they can have more control over the story that's sprung up around the flag, anthem and pro sports.

"They can say exactly what's on their mind, so they control the narrative and the media doesn't," he said.

The Mavericks boss' words stood in contrast to what Jones has said this month about anthem protests and their potential consequences. 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," he said last week on his weekly radio show on 105.3-FM.

Freddie Haynes, senior pastor of Friendship West Baptist Church in Oak Cliff, accused Jones of trying to silence Cowboys players with "plantation politics" during a Monday news conference in front of Dallas Police Department headquarters in The Cedars.

"Mr. Jones doesn't mind cheering for those black players while they're on the field, but he's not concerned about the hell their communities are catching off the field," Haynes said, emphasizing that supporting any players who might protest isn't about hating cops. "We have the back of our police department as long as they have our back."

On Sunday, the Cowboys will take on the 49ers in San Francisco, the birthplace of the national anthem protest controversy. Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick won't be there — he still hasn't found an NFL job this season and recently filed a grievance against the NFL for collusion. But seven of his ex-teammates took a knee during the anthem before the 49ers' last game against the Redskins.
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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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