Dallas Cowboys

Dak-lash? Jerry Jones puts Cowboys players in a bad spot with anthem stance

Dak Prescott says NFL games aren’t right venue for protest

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott voiced his opinion on social injustice protests during the national anthem before football games on Friday, July 27, in Oxnard, California.
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Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott voiced his opinion on social injustice protests during the national anthem before football games on Friday, July 27, in Oxnard, California.

As soon as the words came out of Dak Prescott’s mouth and hit social media, the predictable backlash down racial and political lines began.

Several Dallas Cowboys players already said they weren’t going to fight owner Jerry Jones’ team-mandated edict that all players will stand for the national anthem or face discipline up to being cut.

But when the Cowboys quarterback made his comments about his plans to stand like he always has for the anthem, adding that stadiums are the wrong venues for protest, it cut like a knife.

“I’d never protest. I’d never protest during (the) anthem, and I don’t think that’s the time or the venue to do so,” Prescott said Wednesday from training camp in Oxnard, Calif., when asked to respond to the team’s anthem demands. “The game of football has always brought me such a peace, and I think it does the same for a lot of people — a lot of people playing the game, a lot of people watching the game, a lot of people that have any impact of the game. So when you bring such a controversy to the stadium, to the field, to the game, it takes away. It takes away from that. It takes away from the joy and the love that football brings a lot of people.”

Prescott has been accused of selling out, kowtowing to Jones, while not supporting the causes of the players fighting for social justice, like former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins.

The facts are: You can’t take the fight against racism in the corner and bring it out on a Monday or Tuesday off-day as the Cowboys suggest.

The so-called disruption of lives with an uncomfortable protest on a Sunday pales in comparison to the destruction of life and families for generations because of racism and police brutality.

Prescott has a right to his opinion. He has a right to stand and not protest.

What’s wrong is that Jones has taken that constitutional right away from his players, putting them in a bad position while making them look weak in the process.

Here are the facts: Several Cowboys planned to protest during the national anthem before the game against the Arizona Cardinals last season, following President Donald Trump’s comments ripping the player protests. Coach Jason Garrett got wind of it and informed Jones, who came up with the idea that they would kneel together before the anthem and then stand together for the anthem.

It was Jones’ way of taking the onus and pressure off the players, while taking the decision out of their hands.

That is part of his thinking now.

“You know where I stand, our team knows where I stand. That is where we are,” Jones said in a press conference to open training camp Wednesday in Oxnard. “Our policy is you stand during the anthem, toe on the line.”

But what’s also true is that the Cowboys have a decidedly young team with jobs, careers and big-money deals on the line, and thus are not inclined to make waves.

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, speaking to the media at training camp for the first time Friday morning, said NFL games aren’t the right venue for social injustice protests and hopes players can move on from the controversy.

It is not lost on them that Kaepernick has been essentially blackballed from the league.

Some would be inclined to protest, but they are following the examples of the leaders of the team, like Prescott, running back Ezekiel Elliott and defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence.

Prescott is strong in his position and beliefs on the subject.

But he also is unlikely to make waves with Jones considering he is on the brink of a contract extension that could offer him generations of wealth with a market-deal at more than $27 million annually.

Prescott has outplayed his rookie deal as a fourth-round pick and is eligible for a new deal at the end of the season.

Elliott and Lawrence are in the same spot.

Many of the players who have protested around the league are veterans who have already secured a second or third deal.

Is it wrong for Cowboys players to guarantee their financial footing in the league first before taking bold stances that could cost them their jobs?

The thought process of “he can’t cut them all if they all protest together” doesn’t fly when individual contracts are at stake.

It also should not go overlooked that Jones constructed the roster with “the right kind of guys” in mind. If he will cut a protesting player, he also won’t sign a protesting player.

It’s easy to call out the players, but Jones is the mastermind behind all of this, in the so-called name of doing right by the Cowboys and their fan base.

Making the statements about the Cowboys’ anthem policy was against a leaguewide mandate to table the issue while the NFL and the NFL Players Association come up with a unified plan. It was unnecessary because Cowboys players had not expressed a desire to protest.

Jones said feedback from fans was part of the reason he decided to make the Cowboys’ stance on the issue clear.

Interestingly enough, the Cowboys got negative feedback from fans when they signed domestic abuser Greg Hardy in 2015. Yet, it didn’t sway his decision to add him to the team.

The sad truth is that fans object more to social justice protest than domestic abusers.

Let’s be clear: This is all about money and saving the brand for Jones and the Cowboys.

If it was solely about patriotism and the flag, then they would stop T-shirt sales in the pro shop and cut off concessions at the stadium during the anthem.

Why are the Cowboys not toeing that line?

Because it would cost them money.

This is not about Prescott and the players selling out, this is about Jones selling out the Cowboys.

Clarence E. Hill Jr.:@clarencehilljr

While NFL and the NFL Player’s 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.

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