Jerry Jones playfully put on a silver pair of Ray-Ban aviator sunglasses before he met with the media Sunday.
“You think people may not recognize me if I wear these?” Jerry asked.
Shades or not, Jerry is always unmistakable, but his rhetoric after his Dallas Cowboys defeated the Washington Redskins 33-19 was a different look.
Something has changed, and Jerry Jones has chosen his legacy. It’s the right call.
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The most visible NFL owner to take a stance in this whole protest debacle has been our Hall of Famer. He has doggedly tried to avoid any hint of political activism to satisfy angry fans who are threatening to leave the league over the national anthem protests.
Jerry is on record as being a steadfast flag/anthem guy, because it’s good for business. He also, at least in previous interviews, used language to indicate that he understands the players’ desires, though the real priority is to put this whole scenario in the past.
A few Trump tweets changed that, and ever since Jerry locked arms with his players and took a knee on a Monday night in Arizona, none of this has gone the way he wants. Then Jerry went all in on Team Trump.
On Sunday, Jones channeled his best Coach Jerry and is putting everyone on notice: The NFL is going to be a part of this discussion and push for tangible social change, whether you like it or not.
With his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer, Jerry’s legacy is solidified in how he affected the game and the league. Now, Jerry is going bigger and wants to affect America.
“I don’t look at this as any crisis from the standpoint as a negative. I look at it as a crisis that will engender us getting better,” Jerry said Sunday. “I am convinced that we will look at these times years from now, both from the eyes of fans, players, certainly anybody else — we’ve had people who have had wonderful careers at every level in the NFL — and we can look and make people accountable, including starting with my mirror. I need to look in that rascal.
“My mirror deserves some correcting and some things that need to be adjusted in light of what we’re involved in right now.”
Jerry is not coming off the need for his players to “create the perception” of honoring the flag during the national anthem, but he is stepping away from the Trump Train.
Jerry sounds like a guy who does not want to be on the wrong side of history. He sounds like a guy who does not want to be called, or linked to, any NFL owner who is likened to a plantation owner, such as what is going on with Houston Texans owner Bob McNair.
Since a handful of owners, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and players met in New York City to discuss how the league can address the concerns of the players in regards to increased awareness for equality, and specifically the treatment of black Americans by the police, a lot of these wealthy white men have stopped.
Mostly to listen, and to try to help figure this one out.
One of the main problems in all of this is that some believe players being rich neuters their message. But players are not speaking up for themselves but for so many whose voices are often inaudible: Their brothers. Their sisters. Their aunts. Their moms. Their dads. Their families. Their friends.
Personally, I believe in standing for the national anthem, but I respect the right for anyone to take a knee. There is never a good time to protest. There is never a good time to hear someone complain. As it relates to this particular expression, no one is getting hurt. No guns. No knives. No violence.
Jerry is a lot of things, dumb ain’t one. He knows how this all looks.
Maybe there is no solution, but he’s encouraging everyone to find one.
“I spent my life particularly not liking what the coach told me to do. But I did it because it was in the best interest of the team, and winning, and the best interest of everybody,” Jerry said. “In football, you don’t have to like what your coach or like what you’re doing, you have to buy into it, though, but you don’t necessarily have to like it.
“About 95 percent of anything I’ve ever done in football was work and, if you will, painful, but that 5 percent that wasn’t is why I’m standing here. It’s euphoria when it works, so that’s the game. That’s a part of football. Football is not like other sports. Football is painful. Football causes angst. Football causes you to do unnatural things for a positive result.”
There it is, NFL. There it is, America.
Jerry is good with the most popular sports league in America engaging in this discussion, and to act as an agent for change.
Some of this is going to be awkward, some of it might hurt, and a lot of it is going to make you angry.
“I’ve had good experiences with dealing with things that get broke,” Jerry said. “As a matter of fact, most things have to be adjusted from time to time. Sometimes you have to be slapped upside the head to get it done.”
Coach Jerry just slapped the NFL, and America. We all need it.
Mac Engel: @macengelprof