Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is making it clear: Any player who disrespects the American flag will not play on the field.
Jones’ stern warning Sunday came after he was asked about Vice President Mike Pence and wife leaving the game in Indianapolis early after several San Francisco 49ers players took a knee during the national anthem.
“I know this, we cannot … in the NFL, in any way, give the implication that we tolerate disrespecting the flag,” Jones said. “We know that there is a serious debate in this country about those issues, but there is no question in my mind that the National Football League and the Dallas Cowboys are going to stand up for the flag. So, we’re clear.”
Jones stated that acknowledging respect for the flag and the anthem is more important to him than any issues of team unity. “There is no room here if it comes between looking non-supportive of our players and of each other or creating the impression that you’re disrespecting the flag, we will be non-supportive of each other,” Jones said. “We will not disrespect the flag.”
Two weeks ago, before a game against the Arizona Cardinals, Jones and the rest of the team knelt arm-in-arm before the national anthem just days after President Trump sparked the anthem-protest debacle.
However, Jones also stated he wasn’t aware of whether any of his players had raised a fist at the end of the anthem before a losing game against the Green Bay Packers. “I don’t know about that,” Jones said. “But if there’s anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play. OK? Understand? If we are disrespecting the flag, then we won’t play. Period.”
Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said he adapted his perception on how his team should handle the national anthem. According to the Miami Herald, he evolved the way he looks at the protest because Trump made standing for the national anthem about “patriotism.”
Ross now wants all of the Dolphins players to stand for the anthem. Three key Dolphins players – Kenny Stills, Julian Thomas and Michael Thomas – remained off to the sideline during the anthem Sunday.
The NFL has said the game operations manual distributed to teams includes a reference to players standing for the anthem. However, it’s listed as a policy and not a rule. The league has said it will not punish players over anthem protests. “The league in mind should absolutely take the rules we’ve got on the books and make sure that we do not give the perception that we’re disrespecting the flag,” Jones said.
Dennis Michael Lynch, CEO of DML News, said sales of I STAND FOR MY FLAG bumper stickers shot through the roof after Vice President Pence walked out of the Colts game. “We had sold 17,000 stickers up until the Colts game, and then a huge spike hit — I took a look at it and it was connected to the Pence article we did that was shared 50,000 times. Now, we’re at 18,000. Americans are fed up, and the NFL is withering away, as a result.”
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