Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has been clear from the start where he stood on kneeling during the national anthem since Colin Kaepernick first did it in 2016. His position closely mirrored that of the NFL as a whole. George Floyd’s death in May, however, changed everything.
Since then, there has been a substantive national conversation on systemic racism and police brutality and a growing movement that has included protests, demonstrations, and sports boycotts. The NFL has completely flipped on its original position from 2016. Jones, however, has been more ambiguous on his stance when asked by the media in recent weeks. Until now. And it’s something players have been waiting to hear.
Jerry Jones on kneeling back in 2017
Colin Kaepernick first took a knee at the beginning of the 2016 season. The subject of kneeling remained mostly quiet for the better part of a year until President Trump raised the issue at the start the 2017 season. At that time, he suggested that NFL owners respond to the players by saying, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. He’s fired!”
NFL owners did respond. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, unsurprisingly, was one of the most vocal. He was quite outspoken and clear on where he stood on the kneeling during the national anthem.
“We cannot in any way give the implication that we tolerate disrespecting the flag,” Jones told the Dallas Morning News. “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.”
Roger Goodell posts video admitting NFL was wrong
In early June, just days after George Floyd’s death and less than 24 hours after a group of NFL players produced a video calling on the league to address racism and Black people’s unjust treatment, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell responded on social media.
“We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black People. We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter.”
Many believed Goodell’s video fell short because it lacked an apology directly to Colin Kaepernick. That changed in August when the commissioner expressed remorse and apologized to the former 49ers quarterback on Emmanuel Acho’s YouTube Series “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man.”
“The first thing I’d say is I wish we had listened earlier, Kaep, to what you were kneeling about and what you were trying to bring attention to,” Goodell bluntly admitted.
Jerry Jones dramatically changes position
In recent weeks and after months of unusual silence, Jerry Jones finally joined the conversation on social justice issues in mid-August. While Jones has always tried to give off the impression, he is supportive of his players, his stance and words have always been more reflective of someone trying to appease his fan base.
In a Friday radio interview on 105.3 The Fan, when asked about the national anthem and what he expects from his players, Jones answered with a much different tone than the past few years.
“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. 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.”
Jones’ shift and viewing kneeling during the anthem from the players’ perspective is important. But make no mistake about it, Jones calling out his fanbase and asking them to support the players beyond what they do between the white lines is significant as well. To his credit, Jones is trying to open his eyes and those of his fans to viewing the situation from a different perspective. It will be intriguing to see if Cowboys fans actually do it.