As one of the most popular and most watched franchises in all of sports, when the Dallas Cowboys or someone within the organization like owner Jerry Jones makes a statement, people pay attention. What the Cowboys say or do matters. For the first three weeks of the season, defensive tackle Dontari Poe has made his own statement as the lone Cowboys player to kneel on the sidelines during the national anthem. And now, for the first time since he took his stance, he’s talking about it.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on the national anthem
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was one of the most vocal NFL owners to speak out against players kneeling during the national anthem back in 2017.
“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 told the Dallas Morning News.
Jones, however, reassessed his position this offseason following the death of George Floyd, and more specifically, after the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell changed its stance on kneeling during the national anthem. Days before the start of the 2020 season, Jones offered a more conciliatory tone.
“If our players are there, they are sensitive to and respect what America is as it relates to the flag. I’ll assure you that,” Jones said in an interview on 105.3 The Fan. “I’d hope that our fans — and I think they will — understand that our players have issues that they need help on. They need help from the majority of America. And we want to be an agent of that.”
Dontari Poe is first Dallas Cowboys player to kneel
When the Dallas Cowboys opened the 2020 NFL season on the road against the LA Rams, there was much speculation as to what the players would do when the national anthem was played.
Before the anthem, the entire roster of players stood side-by-side in the end zone during the playing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” or the Black national anthem. Only two Rams players remained on the field while the rest returned to the locker room, before returning for the national anthem.
When the national anthem was played, Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Dontari Poe, who announced he planned on kneeling when he arrived in Dallas and discussed his position with Jones before doing it, was the lone player to take a knee. The remainder of the Cowboys players stood. Some players stood alone like quarterback Dak Prescott while others stood with their hands over their hearts as Jones did up in the owners’ box.
Dontari Poe details why he is kneeling
With three games completed, Dontari Poe has been the lone Dallas Cowboys player to kneel for each game. The nine-year veteran defensive tackle in his first year with the Cowboys spoke to reporters via conference call for the first time about his protest of social injustice issues plaguing the Black community.
“Just because I felt like America as a whole wasn’t doing the right thing about stuff that was happening to people of my color,” Poe said. “I feel like the oppression that’s being had, the racial injustice that is being had, was really unfair. I felt like us as a country, we can do more, and those are just the beginning part of me just saying what I wanted to say.”
Poe said while this is the start of his activism, he plans on doing more in the future, including having more discussions with Jones.
“I talked to Jerry and hope in the future me and him can have more talks because it was all good,” the two-time Pro Bowler said. “It was all positive from both ends. There’s a lot of stuff that we can still just go for and talk to each other about it as men. His life experience is a lot different from mine, and as long as we can put that in each other’s heads and talk about it, I feel like it can be all good. I’m looking forward to those too.”
Dontari Poe and Jerry Jones having open, honest discussions with each other and listening and trying to understand the other’s position is a start. In a nation that’s so divided, it’s a lesson everyone could learn from.