The Dallas Cowboys have always stood and respected the national anthem, as mandated by owner Jerry Jones.
And that won't change in 2018, despite a new anthem policy adopted by the NFL Wednesday that gives players the option to stay in the locker room but be subject to a fine if they sit or kneel.
The new policy is a compromise among the owners to the dozens of players who sat, kneeled or raised a fist during the national anthem the past two years to protest racism and police brutality.
Teams are subject to a fine if a player or any other team personnel does not show respect for the anthem by sitting or kneeling.
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Those teams also will have the option to fine any team personnel, including players, for the infraction.
"We want people to be respectful of the national anthem," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. "We want people to stand — that's all personnel — and make sure they treat this moment in a respectful fashion. That's something we think we owe. [But] we were also very sensitive to give players choices."
The policy will be part of the NFL's game operations manual and thus not subject to collective bargaining. The NFL Players Association said in a statement that it will review the policy and potentially "challenge any aspect" that is inconsistent with the CBA.
But as far as the Cowboys are concerned, there is no issue because they plan on standing, per quarterback Dak Prescott.
“I’m glad they came to an agreement in some form or another,” Prescott said following OTA practice Wednesday. “I’ll be out there standing.”
Asked if he thinks some Cowboys will stay in the locker room now that they have been given a choice, Prescott said Jones’ order for all the players to stand still rules.
“I can’t speak for all these Cowboys players but I’m not sure,” Prescott said. "I’m pretty sure we all kind of know what Jerry said, what his statement was last year, and I don’t see that changing, so who knows? We’ll figure that out when it gets to that time.”
Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence said he will simply follow the rules and do as he has been told by Jones, for now.
“I feel like I’m not an owner, yet … so I can't make none of those rules,” Lawrence said. “I’ve just got to abide by them. It’s still a business at the end of the day, so it is what it is.”
Business is at the root of Jones’ stance on the issue. He believes the protests, which began before the 2016 season by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, have taken away from the fan experience and have impacted declining television ratings.
Jones said the fans want the games to be an escape from their problems in everyday life, not be a reminder of them.
“I’m not trying to diminish issues of rights here, but the No. 1 thing is our fans, and I know our fans want us to zero in on the game, zero in on football,” Jones said to reporters at the NFL owners meetings in Atlanta where the new rule was adopted. “They want to come to the game and get away from a lot of the other issues that are out here.
“So from my standpoint, I’m trying to figure out the very best way so that when somebody thinks NFL, they’re thinking about who’s starting at quarterback and who’s going to come out hot in the third quarter. We’ve got to make sure that whatever we decide here, it’s oriented toward getting our minds on what’s going on on the football field.”
Prescott says he understands both sides of the issue.
And running back Ezekiel Elliott says the players will have to decide on their own “to do whatever they want to do.”
But linebacker Sean Lee said the Cowboys will continue to be unified in their response and actions.
“We've had conversations in the past about respecting each other's beliefs,” Lee said. “We know we're teammates. This is a brotherhood here and we're working toward a common goal, and at times, people have different views. The No. 1 thing we talked about is making sure we support each other; that we stay together, we stay unified, and we support each other. I think that's what we'll do going forward.”