While NFL and the NFL Players Association remain in discussion on the league’s anthem policy and how to handle player protest, Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones remains unequivocal on his team’s stance.
“You know where I stand, our teams know where I stand. That is where we are,” Jones said in a press conference to open training camp in Oxnard, California, on Wednesday. “Our policy is you stand during the anthem, toe on the line.”
Jones said the Cowboys will not support players who choose to remain in the locker room for The Star-Spangled Banner rather than standing on the field.
Jones’ statement is a departure from what had been a standstill agreement between the league and the NFL Players Association to stay the new policy that was voted on last May.
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After receiving consistent criticism from President Donald Trump throughout last season about players protesting during the national anthem, owners voted to approve a new policy that requires players either to stand and “show respect” during the playing of the song or remain in the locker room. Any team that has a player who does not adhere to the rule is subject to a fine from the league, per the policy.
But last Thursday the NFL and the NFLPA issued a joint statement, “No new rules relating to the anthem will be issued or enforced for the next several weeks while these confidential discussions are ongoing.”
Jones said he thinks what the league and the NFLPA are doing is a worthy effort but that doesn’t change the Cowboys’ stance on the issue.
“As far as that, as far as really the vote that we had as a league in the spring, doesn’t impact our team,” Jones said. “Our team, we all know where we stand.”
Jones said he understands that the players are protesting the racism and inequality rather than the flag itself.
But he said he wants there to be no confusion when it comes to the Cowboys.
“I understand that. I do understand that, and I do accept that,” Jones said about the reasons for the protests. “I completely accept that. This is a case where we need to in my mind check that and be real clear that it is — the priority is about the flag — and be real clear about that. We all know — we don’t need to get into the debate back and forth — but sometimes it’s best to just be real clear and succinct so that nobody misunderstands.
“I think that’s our case. We will go on in a lot of other ways, and I will guarantee you you take Texas for instance. You look at the populations and then you look at who’s in prison and you realize you need to get some work done here. It ain’t right. That’s not the issue here. The issue is what’s my job and it’s what’s best for the game and certainly what’s best for the Dallas Cowboys.”
Jones did allow that Trump has made the situation worse with constant comments on the issue and attacks of the league and its players over the protests for social justice during the anthem.
Jones called Trump’s interest unprecedented and problematic.
“Yes, his interest in what we’re doing is problematic from my chair and I would say in general the owners’ chair,” Jones said. “It’s unprecedented if you really think about it. But that’s the way it is and we’ll deal with it. We feel strongly about how we deal with it and we’ll do so accordingly. But yes, everybody would like for it to go away.”
Cowboys Vice President Stephen Jones said its disappointing that Trump is using the issue to pump up his base.
“I think it’s problematic that he likes to go to the NFL,” Stephen Jones said. “It’s obviously something he feels like helps him out. That’s all the more reason, at some point, you’d like to move on from it. That’s hard for me to speculate why he likes to go down that road. We prefer not.”