President Donald Trump implored Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones not to let the national anthem issue die with his fellow NFL owners because it was good for him and his base, according to leaked testimony to the Wall Street Journal.
“This is a very winning, strong issue for me,” President Trump told Jones in a phone call that Jones divulged while giving a deposition in the grievance against the NFL by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
“Tell everybody, you can’t win this one. This one lifts me.”
It was an acknowledgment that President Trump influenced the NFL's new anthem policy.
Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 to protest racism and police brutality. He has since been blackballed from the league.
A number of players have joined in the protest over the last two years, which brought a rebuke from the president during the 2017 season.
A White House official didn’t dispute Jones’ testimony when queried by the Wall Street Journal.
“The majority of the American people agree with the president, love our country, love our flag and believe it should be respected,” a White House official said.
The report also says that Jones, along with Houston Texans owner Bob McNair and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, testified that they believed the protests were hurting the NFL financially.
The Wall Street Journal report came out one week after the NFL changed its policy requiring all the players on the field to stand for the national anthem. Players can stay in the locker room. But if they are on the field they must stand and respect the playing of the national anthem. Teams will be fined if players don’t abide by the rule and team’s can fine the players individually.
Jones has always required the Cowboys to stand for the anthem, threatening to bench or fire anyone who didn’t respect the anthem.
When asked about the Cowboys take on the new anthem rule, vice president Stephen Jones said: “Jerry’s been pretty clear about what our position is. I don’t think I have anything to add on that.”
The Cowboys players have indicated they plan on standing for the anthem as they have done in the past.