Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has yet to discipline any of his own players for disrespecting the national anthem.
But his threat led to the suspension of ESPN host Jemele Hill by her bosses for violating their social media policy with comments about Jones and Cowboys sponsors.
The network announced Monday that Hill has been suspended for two weeks for a second violation of its social media guidelines.
Hill “previously acknowledged letting her colleagues and company down with an impulsive tweet,” ESPN said in a statement. “In the aftermath, all employees were reminded of how individual tweets may reflect negatively on ESPN and that such actions would have consequences. Hence this decision.”
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This decision came after Jones announced Sunday night that he would bench any player who disrespected the flag by kneeling, a statement that immediately went viral and caused a social media firestorm of comments.
Hill joined the fray, tweeting that “Jerry Jones also has created a problem for his players, specifically the black ones. If they don’t kneel, some will see them as sellouts.”
And in defense of the players, which is key, considering she had a Twitter fight with Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant in August regarding his comments about not protesting like other players around the league, she added: “If you strongly reject what Jerry Jones said, the key is his advertisers. Don’t place the burden squarely on the players.”
Even more pointedly she said: “Don’t ask Dak, Dez & other Cowboys players to protest. A more powerful statement is if you stop watching and buying their merchandise.”
She also tweeted: “Just so we’re clear: I’m not advocating a NFL boycott. But an unfair burden has been put on players in Dallas & Miami w/ anthem directives.”
The Miami Dolphins have also been ordered to stand for the anthem by their own Stephen Ross.
Hill continued the Twitter commentary on Jones with: “Change happens when advertisers are impacted. If you feel strongly about [Jerry Jones’] statement, boycott his advertisers.”
One reason Jones is against the player protest during the anthem likely is that he doesn’t want lose money with sponsors or ticket-buying fans.
What makes the situation more troubling for ESPN is that Jones and the Cowboys are business partners with the network.
ESPN has a $15.2 billion deal with the league to broadcast NFL games through 2021.
ESPN, which is paying the NFL $1.9 billion a year for the rights to broadcast Monday Night Football, couldn’t let Hill slide for encouraging boycotts of arguably its biggest ratings attraction.