Jerry Jones says Dallas Cowboys were not influenced by Trump phone calls

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones acknowledges speaking to President Donald Trump on Monday before the team’s on-field display of unity and respect to the national anthem preceding the 28-17 victory against the Arizona Cardinals.

Jones said that you have to “return the president’s call at some point.”

But Jones said the Cowboys were not “influenced” by the president and they were not “played,” as a column in the Star-Telegram suggested Thursday.

On his radio show Friday on 105.3 The Fan, Jones, who donated $1 million to the Trump inaugural, elaborated further on his relationship with Trump that goes back well before he ran for office.

But Jones also made it clear that he doesn’t agree with everything the president says or does.

“I’m not going to get into it,” Jones said. “He did call. He was complimentary, which doesn’t mean that in any way we acquiesced to what he was implying. What we did was exclusive from that. So, where I’m coming from here is the implication that there was some kind of pat on the back is really not the case. It was a simple discussion.

“I know him, and I’ve known him for several years. We have in common a big interest in football and sport. So, where I’m going with this is that’s generally the kind of conversation you have. There are many things we don’t agree on.”

Coach Jason Garrett admitted there probably will be conversations with a few players who initially planned to kneel during the anthem in solidarity with players across the league after the president’s verbal attack against players who, during the anthem, protested racism.

Receiver Dez Bryant said that the Cowboys have decided not to continue their dual display of unity against racism and respect for the flag when they host the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

The team will stand with their hands over their heart for the anthem. There will be no pre-anthem kneel as was done Monday night.

That was a show of solidarity with fellow players across the league responding to the Trump attacks, Bryant said.

“We’re going to stand, we’re going to stand and going to put our hand over our heart, and we’re going to do what we did before,” Bryant said. “You all know what that was, that was just a response to Trump, and that’s all that that was.”

Jones said on his radio show that Bryant “was absolutely torn” about the decision and was getting a lot of pressure to kneel.

The compromise of kneeling before the anthem and standing during it was one way of appeasing both sides, Jones said.

Asked about the external pressures to protest and being torn on the issue, Byrant passed.

“I’m going to leave that all in the past,” Bryant said. “You know, it is what it is. I’m focused on this week. I’m letting that ... I don’t even want to think about it. I’m done with that.”

But the Cowboys’ template is being copied by other teams across the league, as Jones predicted.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees announced Friday that he and his teammates will kneel before the national anthem Sunday and then stand up during the national anthem.

It seems to be a comfortable way to accommodate players who want to continue the protest for racial equality and social justice, started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick last season, while also showing respect for the flag and the anthem.

Clarence Hill: 817-390-7760, @clarencehilljr