Mac Engel

Jerry agrees with Trump/Pence; NFL to dance for unhappy fans

Cowboys players stand without protest during Sunday’s national anthem. Owner Jerry Jones said after the team’s loss that he would bench any player who disrespects the flag.
Cowboys players stand without protest during Sunday’s national anthem. Owner Jerry Jones said after the team’s loss that he would bench any player who disrespects the flag. AP

Jerry Jones might lose sleep knowing his defense can’t stop Trevor Siemian, Jared Goff and Aaron Rodgers, but the Cowboys’ owner will make up for those lost hours knowing none of those players will take a knee.

What was originally a rumor is no more. If a Cowboys player disrespects the flag, there will be consequences.

If any member of the Dallas Cowboys wants to express his American right to free speech, don’t do it for America’s Team.

After the Cowboys’ latest gag loss to the Green Bay Packers, a 35-31 defeat on Sunday, the strongest owner in pro sports was stronger with his words when it comes to the national fake crisis surrounding NFL players who take a knee to protest racial inequality.

“If there is anything disrespecting the flag, then we will not play. Period,” Jerry told a handful of us reporters in the waning moments of his media gathering on Sunday afternoon. “We’re going to respect the flag, and I’m going to create the perception of it.”

There it is, kids. A man who publicly is stridently apolitical, because it’s bad for business, has had enough. “Create the perception of it” is a nice way of saying, “Fellas, shut your mouth and fake it.”

Fans, you win. The Cowboys and the NFL are going to play the part and dance for you. The NFL has fallen in line with our nation’s greatest priority: How things look are far more important than they actually are.

Now please turn the games back on and start buying stuff. These poor owners need to eat.

So Jerry is down with signing defensive end Greg Hardy, who beat his ex-girlfriend, but guys who create the perception of disrespecting the flag and the national anthem have no place on his football team.

Got it.

Jerry is with Vice President Mike Pence, who bided his boss by tweeting that he was leaving the 49ers/Colts game in Indianapolis because a handful of players participated in protesting for equality by taking a knee during the national anthem.

“I’m saying our vice president of the United States, if in his opinion, there’s disrespect of the flag then he should — he basically should — if in his opinion express himself however he wants to say,” Jerry said. “He’s got rights too. So however he wants to do it. He felt that not standing for the flag is disrespectful. I do, too.”

Everything until Sunday afternoon from Jerry and the Cowboys had been a PC tap dance around the issue.

That included the choreographed arm-in-arm, take-a-knee “prayer for equality” shtick before the playing of the national anthem two weeks ago in Arizona.

That assault to the flag, patriotism, the legacy of George Washington, Toby Keith, Abe Lincoln and Dan Quayle is no more. Jerry and the NFL have seen enough of the polling to know this whole free speech thing sounds great, but it hurts the brand, the shield, and the wallet.

After the win in Arizona, President Trump called Jerry, who donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee, to let him know what the rules are in the NFL.

“He said, ‘You know there’s a rule on the books that’s been there for years about game operations. Have you read it? Have you seen it?’ ” Jerry said. “He said, ‘This could have been all resolved.’ 

Both blue and red can agree it’s a relief to know we finally have a president who knows the specifics of the NFL’s game operations manual; Jimmy Carter didn’t win a second term for a reason.

“Whether I agree with (Trump) or not, I also said you know there are several things we don’t agree about. We’re friends, but there are several things we don’t agree about,” Jones said. “But I want to be real clear: If it comes between the impression of the perception that we’re not standing together supporting each other, or the perception that we’re disrespecting the flag we will not — the perception that we’re not together will be secondary to not respecting the flag. Respecting the flag is first. Or the perception of not respecting the flag.”

I asked Jerry if he thought this issue would go away if an NFL team just signed the man who started this all, former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who told CBS Sports that he’s working out and has contacted all 32 teams about a job.

“Obviously (we) need to work on my personnel; I don’t want to talk about other teams,” Jerry said. “I’m not interested in him as a quarterback with the Cowboys.”

Neither are the 31 other NFL teams. Because it’s a good bet the other 31 NFL owners agree with Jerry regarding Kaepernick, and creating the perception of respecting the flag and standing for the national anthem.

Jerry has spoken. He’s with Trump and Pence on this.

Stand for the flag. Hand over heart. Whether you mean it or not, create the perception. Fake it.

Because we as Americans should all agree how things look are more important than how they are.

Mac Engel: @macengelprof