Jerry Jones has ducked the question of whether he would change his policy requiring Dallas Cowboys players to show up during the national anthem.
Yet the owner who took the hardest line among his NFL counterparts against protesting racial injustice during “The Star-Spangled Banner” has acknowledged a shift in the social tide after George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis Police.
Two years ago, Jones wasn’t even arguing for players to stay in the locker room during the national anthem, saying the club’s policy was for players to be on the sidelines, “with their feet on the line”.
While reiterating his belief in defending the anthem at his annual pre-training camp meeting with reporters this week, Jones attempted to say he intended to be more open to players’ perspectives. .
“It was then … It is now,” Jones said Wednesday. “These are very sensitive times. I have nothing to prove about my flag position and the Cowboys position. I have nothing to prove about my players and my support for our players.
“I want our players to understand the perception and where they’re coming from regarding the flag and the sensitivity there, and the many memories there. And I want our fans to understand … where our players are coming from.
Jones was the first owner to suggest he could bring players to their knees for the anthem. It was in 2017, when the question erupted after President Donald Trump’s comments a year after Colin Kaepernick first knelt down to draw attention to issues of racial injustice.
With more players kneeling in response to Trump three years ago, Jones joined players and coaches as the Cowboys locked their arms and kneeled before the anthem on a Monday night in Arizona. Everyone was standing before the hymn was played.
“We have a lot on this team who were thinking one way and many, many others who were thinking another way,” Jones said. “I asked them to look at it from a perspective not only of the team, but also from the perspective of the uniqueness that we can do with the Dallas Cowboys.”
The Cowboys are in a similar situation now, with star quarterback Dak Prescott saying “conversations are heating up” about what the team will be doing with players and coaches kneeling during the anthem in other professional leagues, especially the NBA.
“We are approaching a point of what we want to do and how we want to represent each other, how we want to represent this team and how we want to represent this country,” Prescott said.
Prescott pledged $ 1 million for police training after Floyd, a black man, died when a white policeman pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes in May. He said he was “disgusted and disturbed” by Floyd’s death.
The double Pro Bowler also joined other athletes in writing to Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt asking for the release of death row inmate Julius Jones.
While Prescott said two years ago he didn’t think the anthem was the right time for such an event, he said he would support his kneeling teammates.
“We have the choice to do whatever we want, whether it’s kneeling or believing in this religion or this religion, coming from this background and doing it again, getting out of this economic deal or being overwhelmed. through oppression and overcoming it, ”Prescott told me. “I support life and I support the good of people.”
Defensive tackles Dontari Poe and Gerald McCoy signed with Dallas as free agents during the offseason, and both wondered why Jones hadn’t spoken sooner after Floyd’s death and Commissioner Roger recognition. Goodell that the NFL erred in resisting peaceful protests by players.
Jones said he hadn’t spoken to Poe and McCoy directly, but expected to do so while also speaking to other players.
“Am I interested in what everyone has to say about any problem? You bet, ”Jones said. “And I have bunny ears. I really do. Having said that, I am listening. The point is, we’ll do it in a way that we think is sensitive and that has just as much grace for everyone’s genuine feelings in mind.
Jones said the key word was “thanks” amid the changing social environment that includes the country’s battle to contain the coronavirus.
“I’m going to show grace,” Jones said. “And I would like to show that kind of grace on a sensitive subject. Everyone is genuine here. I give everyone the benefit of the doubt in any decision I make.
Jones’ tone indicated a little more leeway over “toe on the line.”
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