Bud Kennedy

When the Cowboys’ Jerry Jones didn’t stand for the anthem: It involved Liz Taylor

Shot September 25, 1989 - Elizabeth Taylor sprays some of her new men’s cologne - Passion - on Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones at a launching party for the new fragrance held at the Stadium Club at Texas Stadium Monday night. / jjtxm /  (Photo by LESLIE WHITE - staff photographer/The Dallas Morning News)
Shot September 25, 1989 - Elizabeth Taylor sprays some of her new men’s cologne - Passion - on Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones at a launching party for the new fragrance held at the Stadium Club at Texas Stadium Monday night. / jjtxm / (Photo by LESLIE WHITE - staff photographer/The Dallas Morning News) Dallas Morning News

Years ago, there was one time when Jerry Jones himself did not stand for the national anthem.

Star-Telegram readers made sure he heard about it.

In 1989, at Jones’ first home game in old Texas Stadium, he proudly arranged for movie star Elizabeth Taylor to perform the coin toss against the rival Washington Redskins.

They rolled out to the star at midfield on an equipment cart during the Star-Spangled Banner. And there they sat.

It was too much for reader Ken Johnson of North Richland Hills, a young graduate from Texas Wesleyan University.

“Jeers to Jerry Jones and Liz Taylor,” he wrote to the Cheers & Jeers column.

“Riding out in a cart just before the anthem began was bad enough, but sitting while it was played was more than many of us could handle. Jerry, please note that in Texas, we stand for the national anthem.”

Johnson wasn’t alone. Reader Diane Miller also wrote a “jeer” to Jones, “owner of America’s Team,” for never standing.

Jones, 46, and Taylor, 57, finally stood. But for the coin toss.

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Ken Johnson, 54, remains a Cowboys fan. In 1989, he sent the Star-Telegram a “Cheers and Jeers” item about Jerry Jones not standing for the national anthem. Courtesy photo

Johnson is now 54 and lives in Aspen, Colorado.

“He and Liz just sat and chatted in the golf cart while everybody else stood up,” Johnson said this week.

“We couldn’t believe it. In 1989, you stood up when the anthem was played. I said, ‘I’m gonna write a letter to the editor about this.’ “

He described Taylor, in town to promote Passion perfume, as feeble. At the time, she had back problems among a variety of ailments.

Johnson said he wonders whether Jones sat with Taylor out of sympathy: “But still, if you can stand up, you stand up.”

Jones has often shown reporters a photo of himself with Taylor in his suite. It hung in his office.

“No office would be complete if it didn’t have a picture of Elizabeth Taylor,” he said in a 2016 interview with The Dallas Morning News.

“I’ll never forget,” he said.

Jones said he asked Commissioner Pete Rozelle for permission to let Taylor flip the coin. (This was back when Jones asked the NFL’s permission first.)

He said Rozelle replied: “Oh, my god — she’s just iconic. And my goodness, how beautiful. It’d be a privilege for the NFL to flip that coin.”

The anthem wasn’t the last faux pas.

Referee Pat Haggerty let her call the toss.

“Heads,” she said, and it came up heads.

Redskins tight end Terry Orr pointed out correctly that his team should get to call the toss.

“Let’s do this again,” Haggerty said over the sound system: “You’ve got me all shook up.”

The Redskins went on to win the toss and the game, 30-7. It was the third of eight consecutive losses that launched the NFL career of Coach Jimmy Johnson.

The Redskins’ star defensive end, Dexter Manley, complained.

“That teed me off, man,” he said, according to Star-Telegram archives.

“We were there to play a football game, and there she was out there in a fur coat. … Who does [Jones] think he is? It looks like they want to make some Hollywood deal out of this.”

Johnson, then a young fan, went on to a career building wastewater treatment plants.

He said he still follows the Cowboys and supports Jones’ anthem policy. He gets a smartphone text alert every time another reporter mentions his “jeer” about the time Jones didn’t stand for the anthem.

The jeer also mentioned that during the anthem, former Cowboys Coach Tom Landry “always took off his hat.”

Jones still can’t quite get that right.

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