Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has had a change of heart about athletes protesting during the national anthem.
Jones previously told his players to stand “toe on the line” at attention during the anthem to show unity and approach the anthem with a single team response. On Friday, he acknowledged that his players’ opinions are diverse, and he asked fans to respect their viewpoint.
“That’s the great thing about America: Everybody has a difference,” Jones said Friday morning on Dallas radio station 105.3 The Fan. “If our players are there, they are sensitive to and respect what America is as it relates to the flag. I’ll assure you that. I’d hope that our fans — and I think they will — understand that our players have issues that they need help on. They need help from the majority of America.”
Previously, Jones stood firm on his national anthem stance. To date, no Cowboys player has kneeled during the national anthem in the four years since Colin Kaepernick first took a knee. Kaepernick’s actions sparked a movement of players kneeling on NFL sidelines before kickoff to protest racial injustices and police brutality.
Jerry Jones Swayed by Cowboys Players
Earlier this week, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott stated that his teammates should have the right to express themselves as individuals. “To force your opinion and your perceptions on somebody,” Prescott said, isn’t what America needs in 2020.
“Right now, it’s about listening,” said Prescott. “We’ve heard Mr. Jones talk about grace and sharing grace and having grace with players in what they want to do. If I had it my way, that’s exactly what we’d do is express ourselves individually but love and support one another collectively.”
Cowboys defensive tackle Dontari Poe has claimed he intends to kneel during the anthem. In fact, multiple players have shared their interest in showing solidarity with victims of injustice. However, many have said they are not sure how they would indicate that solidarity.
Taking action is important to the players. But having the freedom to speak their mind is just as important to them. Defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford said Thursday that players have received a “green light” to continue those productive conversations.
“To feel however we’re feeling, express how we’re feeling and say whatever we need to say,” Crawford said about the green light. “We want to do something that makes a boom and that people remember and something that actually creates some change.”
On Friday, Jones touched on the power of the Cowboys’ platform. Teams across the NFL and other professional sports are actively discussing issues of discrimination and social justice in formal settings. Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy called a team meeting after the shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man, by a white police offer in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Nine NFL teams canceled practices after the shooting, and held talks on how to maximize their platform and work toward change.
The longtime Cowboys owner is looking for a balanced approach for all moving forward.
“We’ll do it by showing grace to the millions who are sensitive that the flag is the best of America,” Jones said. “The flag is a symbol of that. We also recognize the times we’re in and the need for social justice. There will be no angst between me and the players. And no angst between me and the fans.”
[H/T USA Today]