During the 2016 NFL season, Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem. After the death of George Floyd, the quarterback and his peaceful protest has re-entered the national spotlight, with everyone from Roger Goodell to Drew Brees weighing in on the issue. Shannon Sharpe, however, is still waiting to hear from someone else: Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
When players were kneeling during the 2017 NFL season, Jerry Jones was one of the most vocal critics of the on-going protests. In 2020, though, we’re still waiting to hear from the Dallas Cowboys owner.
The NFL seems to be changing its collective tune about Colin Kaepernick
While Colin Kaepernick hasn’t played in the NFL since the end of the 2016 season, he’s recently rejoined the national conversation. This time, however, his protests are receiving a bit of a different reception.
Joe Lockhart, who spent two years as the NFL’s executive vice president in charge of communications and government affairs, got the ball rolling in a CNN column. While the league always maintained that Kaepernick remained unemployed due to football reasons, Lockhart pulled back the veil. “No teams wanted to sign a player—even one as talented as Kaepernick—whom they saw as controversial, and, therefore, bad for business,” he explained.
The trend continued with Drew Brees—he said that he would “never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag” before apologizing—and even reached Roger Goodell. In a public about-face, the commissioner said the league was wrong for not listening to its players; he also affirmed that Black Lives Matter.
While it’s important to keep things in perspective—words, whether they’re from the NFL or Drew Brees, pale in comparison to actions—seeing Roger Goodell publically supporting the players’ right to protest would have previously been unimaginable.
Shannon Sharpe wants to hear from owners like Jerry Jones
Whether you believe Drew Brees and Roger Goodell are actually committed to changing their behavior or are simply trying to play the PR game, they made a public statement about NFL protests. Some powerful owners, like Jerry Jones, however, have remained silent.
That reality hasn’t been lost on Shannon Sharpe. “Saw Commish Goodell’s video, but he works at the behest of the owners,” the former tight end wrote on Twitter. “I need to hear from Jerry Jones, Dan Snyder, the owners that support President Trump and help change Kap’s narrative from police brutality/systematic racism to being about the flag/military/vets.”
As Sharpe noted, Goodell’s statement theoretically covers all of the owners; the Cowboys themselves also posted a video about social injustice on their Twitter account. Jerry Jones’ status and past, however, should warrant him making an individual statement.
We know Jerry Jones didn’t look kindly on Colin Kaepernick’s protest
In his next tweet, Shannon Sharpe highlighted Jerry Jones’ previous stance when it comes to on-field protests. As documented by Bleacher Report, the Dallas Cowboys owner said any player who “disrespects the flag” wouldn’t play; he also explained that his team would “stand up for the flag.”
Before one game, however, Jones did join his team on the field to kneel before a game; they stood back up for the national anthem, though. As Dominque Foxworth noted in The Undefeated at the time, the gesture was met with mixed reactions. Some appreciated that the owner physically joined his players, rather than simply issuing a statement; others, like Champ Baily, felt that Jones was putting on a show rather than truly advocating for change.
If nothing else, we know that Jerry Jones is never shy about finding a camera or microphone and sharing his opinion. That reality, combined with his previous statements, has left Shannon Sharpe and plenty of football fans waiting for him to make a statement; until that happens, his silence will speak volumes.