Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said on Sunday that, “Any player who disrespects the flag or does not stand for the anthem will not play in the game.” On Wednesday, Jones met with his players to discuss the new rule, which is in stark contrast to his actions just weeks before when Jones joined Cowboys players in kneeling before the anthem ahead of a nationally televised game against the Cardinals.
So why the about face?
For starters, Jones said that President Donald Trump, who certainly has more important things to concern himself with, reminded him of the NFL Game Operations Manual, which explains how players should behave during the anthem and failure to do so could result in fines, suspensions and even lost draft picks. But the manual is an old document and the league has already stated that players won’t be fined or suspended for demonstrating.
But more than that, Jones told his players in their Wednesday meeting that his stance on the anthem is because he wants to play the bad guy and deflect attention from the rest of the team, reports ESPN.com’s Todd Archer.
More from Archer:
In the meeting, Jones sought to ensure that players also saw the bigger picture regarding the business side of the situation, including concerns over TV ratings and sponsors, the source said. …
One player said Jones expected the Cowboys will continue to stand during the anthem. Another said the players had a better feeling for Jones’ comments, because at first he wondered if Jones had turned against them, according to the source.
Afterwards, Cowboys quarerback Dak Prescott said the meeting “went well,” adding that “we ironed out everything that we needed to at this time.”
Meanwhile, Jones told CBS Sports Radio’s 105.3 The Fan on Tuesday that players are still free to express themselves, with one caveat: “If we’re going to have any recognition, it needs to be before the anthem.”
Jones added that while he feels the Cowboys have been sensitive to social issues, he’s also wary of alienating his fanbase.
“There is a debate about standing for the flag, being disrespectful, so I am removing us from that debate,” he said.
It has been almost a month since Trump’s remarks at an Alabama rally created this latest firestorm.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now,” the president said to a cheering crowd. “Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!”
Days later, more than 200 NFL players demonstrated during the anthem in protest. a 20-fold increase over the number of players who demonstrated in Week 1.