The national discussion has turned to social injustice in recent weeks. In the NFL, this means the dialogue has focused on Colin Kaepernick, the former 49ers quarterback who knelt during the National Anthem. While players, coaches, and even the NFL Commissioner have spoken out, two prominent voices have been noticeably silent: Jerry Jones and Robert Kraft.
So why haven’t they weighed in, and is their refusal to make a statement an indication of their privilege?
Gregg Popovich’s stinging criticism of Jerry Jones and Robert Kraft
San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich is no stranger to commenting on social issues. He’s been outspoken in the past on a wide range of topics, and with the current political climate, he’s been no different lately. The NFL recently found themselves in his crosshairs.
In an interview with the New York Times, Popovich called out the NFL but also Jones and Kraft specifically for their ongoing silence. Here’s what he had to say:
“It’s just hypocritical…It’s incongruent. It doesn’t make sense. People aren’t blind. Do you go to your staff and your players and talk about injustices and democracy and how to protest? I don’t get it. I think they put themselves in a position that’s untenable.”
Popovich pulled no punches. It does beg the question: why hasn’t either man taken charge in this situation as the leader of their franchise?
Why is Kraft remaining silent?
There’s no way to tell a single reason why Jones and Kraft haven’t spoken up. Any explanation not directly from their mouths represents attempted mind-reading at worst and an educated guess at best. But one can speculate based on Jones and Kraft’s prior comments and activity.
According to NBC Sports, Kraft has a fairly close relationship with President Donald Trump. Trump has been a vocal critic of Kaepernick, though recent comments softened his stance on whether the quarterback should be allowed back in the NFL. It could be that Trump and Kraft’s friendship has made him hold his tongue when it comes to discussing Kaepernick.
Why is Jones remaining silent?
Jones’ perspective on Kaepernick may be a bit clearer. When the controversy was at a fever pitch and Kaepernick was still in the NFL and taking a knee, Jones said in no uncertain terms that he would not abide any Dallas player taking similar action:
“We cannot in anyway give the implication that we tolerate disrespecting the flag. We know that there is a serious debate in this country about those issues, but there is no question in my mind, that the [NFL] and the Dallas Cowboys are going to stand up for the flag.”
Jones and Kraft are businessmen. They understand that the public’s perception is important to the success of their on-field product and likely don’t want to be viewed as being stuck in the past. But the fact of the matter is, both Jones and Kraft are so wealthy and powerful in NFL circles that they don’t need to comment on the situation.
Jones in particular is headstrong. They have enough money and clout that remaining silent won’t affect their bottom line. Because they’ve built two of the most profitable, powerful brands in the league, they can weather any storm. That’s a shame; because of their influence, they could do some real good in bringing light to some important issues.