Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said emphatically that his players will stand for the national anthem and not disrespect the flag, and if they do, the player or players will not play.
“If there’s anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play,” Jones said after the Cowboys’ 35-31 loss to the Green Bay Packers. “Understand? We will not … if we are disrespecting the flag, then we will not play. Period.”
The topic was raised after Vice President Mike Pence left Sunday’s game between the Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers after more than 20 Niners knelt during the national anthem with their hands over their hearts, as was the case the previous week.
Pence tweeted a statement in which he said he would not dignify any event that disrespects soldiers, the flag or the anthem.
NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith said in a statement Monday that in meetings last week with team owners, commissioner Roger Goodell and Giants owner John Mara, the chairman of the NFL management council, assured union leaders that they would “respect the Constitutional rights of our members without retribution.” Smith also said that “no player is disrespecting our country or our flag” by protesting during the national anthem.
At the Cowboys’ Sept. 25 meeting with the Arizona Cardinals, Jones, his sons Stephen and Jerry Jr. and daughter Charlotte Anderson joined the team’s players, coaches and staff on the field in taking a knee and locking arms prior to the anthem. During the anthem, the Jones family stood arm-in-arm with the players.
The gesture was in response to President Donald Trump’s comments that NFL owners should fire players who disrespect the flag by not standing during the national anthem.
According to the Dallas Morning News, Cowboys defensive ends Damontre Moore and David Irving raised their fists at the end of the anthem before Sunday’s game against the Packers. Jones was unaware of their actions when asked after the game.
“We as a team are very much on the page together,” Jones said. “We made our expression. I’m very supportive of the team, but under no circumstances will the Dallas Cowboys — I don’t care what happens — under no circumstances will we as an organization, coaches, players, not support and stand and recognize and honor the flag. Period.”
Jones, one of seven NFL owners who donated to Trump’s inaugural committee, spoke with the president after the Cowboys played the Cardinals. According to Jones, Trump said the entire issue could have been avoided if the NFL enforced a rule stating that players must stand for the national anthem. However, that requirement is not included in the NFL’s game operations manual.
According to the manual, “During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking.”
“If it comes between the impression or the perception that we’re not standing together, supporting each other or the perception that we’re disrespecting the flag, the perception that we’re not together will be secondary to not respecting the flag,” Jones said. “Respecting the flag is first.”