Dallas Cowboys

Robert Quinn to return against Miami, but will he bring back social justice protest?

Dallas Cowboys defensive end Robert Quinn will ironically make his season debut against his former team, the Miami Dolphins, on Sunday.

Quinn missed the first two games under NFL suspension for using a banned substance.

The Cowboys officially placed him on the active roster Wednesday after waiving defensive end Taco Charlton.

Quinn, who was traded to the Cowboys by the Dolphins in March, said there is no added significance to playing his former team.

He said his goal is to contribute to a victory. He will not make it about himself.

“Just get a ‘dub’ for the team,” Quinn said. “I realize, don’t try to make things more than what it is. Me just coming back, the team’s been doing well. I’m just coming back, trying to contribute as best as I could and not try to let this team down in any way, shape or form. I don’t want to overwork myself, over hype myself. It’s a football team. One as a team we want to do one thing and that’s win. As a player, individual, we’ve got the individual game goals. But at the end of the day, it just comes down to winning as a team.”

It doesn’t appear Quinn plans to draw any attention before the game in the form of a social justice protest during the national anthem.

He has raised his fist in protest the past couple of years with the Dolphins and Rams.

It has been a question since he joined the Cowboys because of owner Jerry Jones’ edict of requiring all of his players to stand and be respectful during the anthem.

A raised fist is not the same as getting down on one knee in protest as former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick did when he kicked off the movement in 2016 in protest of social justice and racism against people of color.

Quinn said the intentions of the protests have been distorted by the media and he didn’t seem inclined to continue his raised fist demonstration in Dallas. He didn’t do it when he attended games in the preseason, though he was sidelined by a fractured hand.

“Um, why did the protest start? Then what did you all turn it into,” Quinn said. “You all media, you all turned it into... Let me use the right word. You all took the message and made it into what you all wanted to make it. Now, I could sit there and beat this over the head, beat this over the head. At the end of the day, y’all know what’s being done. Y’all see what’s being done about it. So whether I can sit and talk about it, I see how people move. I handle my business the way I handle it. You want to know what I’m about, you come speak to me in my personal space, not at work. And you see how I really roll.”

Jones is as excited as anyone to see Quinn on the field. He went out of his way to laud his character as much as his play during separate interviews the past couple of days.

“Yes, we do. Yes, and I am excited to get him,” Jones said when asked about Quinn coming back. “He’s such an outstanding person. His character is really one of the best I’ve seen in the NFL. He’s very genuine; he has a great family. What does that have to do with it? He is someone that we want on the field for us in a lot of ways.

“That is really big for us. We need him.”

Jones hasn’t been asked lately about Quinn potentially protesting during the anthem. But when asked during training camp on NBC5, he said the Cowboys’ stance is clear.

“I think what our position is, is very clear,” Jones said. “And it will remain clear. We want to recognize the social issues that Robert wants to make people aware of. We want to recognize those. But the Cowboys stand for the flag when we get ready to play football.”

So if Quinn stands and raises his fist, will the Cowboys have a problem with that?

“Again, I don’t wanna get into, as a matter of fact, Robert and I haven’t spoke about this,” Jones said. “So, the point is that our team... as a team and as players on the team will do the things that is commonly perceived as honoring the flag.”

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Clarence E. Hill Jr. has covered the Dallas Cowboys as a beat writer/columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since 1997. That includes just two playoff wins, six coaches and countless controversies from the demise of the dynasty teams of the 1990s through the rollercoaster years of the Tony Romo era until Jason Garrett’s process Cowboys.