Defensive ends David Irving and Damontre Moore will not be disciplined by the Dallas Cowboys for raising their fists at the end of the national anthem before Sunday’s 35-31 loss to the Green Bay Packers.
It was a question because of owner Jerry Jones’ declaration after the game that he would bench any player who disrespected the anthem.
Coach Jason Garrett said he had conversations with both players Monday and has no issue with their actions.
“They did that well after the anthem was completed,” Garrett said. “It was a private thing that they did for themselves. My understanding, it was done well after the anthem.”
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Garrett acknowledged that he hasn’t talked to Jones about his comments and has never been part of a conversation where players were directly ordered to stand for the anthem or face retribution.
But he said it’s clear how the Cowboys want to approach the anthem before games.
“Again, we’ve had some honest discussions with our players over the past few weeks about it,” Garrett said. “We believe the approach we take is the right one for our football team. Again, we want to approach the anthem in a very respectful way. Want to approach the flag in a very respectful way.”
Jones made it clear Sunday night that he views anything but standing up with your hand over your heart as disrespect toward the anthem. And he said the Cowboys will stand or be benched.
“If there’s anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play,” Jones said. “Understand? We will not ... if we are disrespecting the flag, then we will not play. Period.”
Jones’ comments came roughly two weeks after he joined the Cowboys in kneeling before the anthem in a sign of unity and then standing up for the anthem with locked arms before the 28-17 victory against the Arizona Cardinals.
But Jones said that respect for the anthem supersedes all.
“There is no room here if it comes between looking non-supportive of our players and of each other or creating the impression that you’re disrespecting the flag, we will be non-supportive of each other,” Jones said “We will not disrespect the flag.”
Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones tried to soften Jerry Jones’ words during his radio show on 105.3 The Fan on Monday.
He said hadn’t talked to the elder Jones about the comments but says the players have never been given a direct order.
“I know this. He’s been very pleased. I think we’ve had great communication with our players in terms of the way to do things in terms of how we can certainly have respect and be sensitive to the things that they’re faced with as we did in Arizona,” Stephen Jonea said. “But at the same time, I think they understand and trust Jerry, trust our organization that we also need to pay the proper respect to the flag.
“I think they’ve had a great understanding. Jerry’s never told them to do anything, he’s always asked them to. I know we’ve been very pleased with the way we’ve handled it ... our players as a team, as an organization, the way we’ve handled obviously a very difficult situation.”
According to couple of players who chose to remain anonymous, the Cowboys have never been ordered to stand or else but that attitude has been implied and the players take it as such.
Jones’ threat drew the ire of DeMaurice Smith, the head of the NFL Players Association.
He tweeted a statement Monday saying the union had been informed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that the league “would respect the Constitutional rights of our members without retribution.”
Smith said in his statement: “No player is disrespecting our Country or our Flag” by kneeling during the anthem.”
There is nothing in the collective bargaining agreement mandating players stand for the national anthem before games.
It is considered a guideline in the league’s operations manual where it reads, “During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking.”
It’s considered a policy and not a rule, and players don’t face discipline from the league if they don’t abide by it.
Hence, no NFL players have been punished since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began his silent protest against police brutality and racial injustice by kneeling during the anthem last season.
Jones, however, has now threatened to punish any Cowboys player for kneeling.
The league did not return phone calls on Monday asking whether Jones’ mandate was supported by the NFL.