In retrospect, the 2020 NFL offseason probably didn’t go how Dak Prescott planned. The Dallas Cowboys quarterback needed a contract extension and was hoping for a sizable pay raise; he’ll be making more money this season but is playing on a franchise tag, not a long-term deal. Now, it seems like there’s another point of contention between Prescott and Jerry Jones.
Earlier this summer, Jones seemed to suggest that he still isn’t wild about the idea of Cowboys players protesting during the national anthem; instead, he’d prefer a collective gesture. In his recent media availability, though, Prescott disagreed with a key point from his boss’ plan.
National anthem protests have returned to pro sports in 2020
In 2016, Colin Kaepernick made history by remaining seated during the national anthem; eventually, he chose to kneel instead. Four years later, his actions are still at the heart of a heated debate.
After the death of George Floyd, Kaepernick and his protests re-entered the spotlight. Many held up the incident, in which a police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for several minutes, as the exact sort of thing that the former 49ers quarterback was taking a stand—or, literally, a knee—against. Seemingly in a blink of an eye, leagues were proclaiming ‘Black Lives Matter,” and players around the world were taking a knee before their respective games.
The protests, however, still haven’t been universally accepted. Some public figures, like Donald Trump and Aubrey Huff, among others, have no problem taking to social media and criticizing those who kneel.
Jerry Jones seems to have a particular type of national anthem protest in mind
In light of the NFL treated Colin Kaepernick, it will be interesting to see what happens when the league kicks off the 2020 campaign. Jerry Jones, however, doesn’t seem like he’s undergone a massive change of heart.
As recorded by Bleacher Report in 2017, Jones said that the Dallas Cowboys would not be kneeling during the national anthem. The entire team, Jones included, did join arms and take a knee before a game against the Cardinals, but that action was billed as a show of unity rather than a protest; they also rose to their feet before the anthem was played.
Based on his recent quotes, it seems like Jones is envisioning a similar gesture in 2020. Earlier this offseason, the Cowboys owner said that he wants his team to “show grace” and “understand the perception and where they’re coming from regarding the flag and the sensitivity there and the many memories there.” In a subsequent radio appearance, he made reference to their collective gesture.
“I knelt with our players, as you know, on a personal basis,” Jones explained on 105.3 The Fan. “But as a team, we all knelt together before the anthem, and then we stood for the anthem to recognize what its symbol is to America. I thought that was good. … That’s the kind of thing that we’ll be looking to see if we can implement.”
Dak Prescott doesn’t agree with one key point of Jerry Jones’ plan
For better or worse, Jerry Jones is the top dog in Dallas. Even on a franchise tag, though, Dak Prescott has some clout; it seems like he disagrees with one key part of his boss’ protest plan.
“I sure hope so, that’s what this country is about, the freedom to do that, the freedom to express yourself,” Prescott said when asked about players deciding individually whether to protest, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “As we heard Mr. Jones talk about grace and sharing grace and having grace with players in what they want to do. If I had it my way that’s exactly what we’d do is express ourselves individually but love and support one another collectively.”
That, of course, clashes with Jones’ idea of one, collective gesture ahead of the national anthem. We already know that at least one Cowboy, Donatri Poe, plans to take a knee in protest this season.
“I wouldn’t say it’s going to be about expressing one idea,” Prescott continued. “That’s where we are as a country right now. Individuals have different thoughts, different perceptions, and different feelings than their neighbor. So for you to force your opinion and your perceptions on somebody I think isn’t very important right now, it doesn’t matter. Right now, it’s about listening to the other man, having empathy for him, and understanding where he may be coming from. I think if anything it’s to see guys expressing themselves and more so from that you’re going to see people supporting one another and loving one another.”
Jerry Jones and Dak Prescott have both made their positions on national anthem protests clear. Now, we’ll have to see which plan the Cowboys follow.