In Latest Anthem Comments, Jerry Jones Showed That He Doesn’t Respect The Identities And Ideas Of His Team’s Players Or Those Of His Dallas Cowboys Fans.
I knew as soon as I saw Jerry Jones kneeling with his players before the national anthem on Monday Night Football a couple of weeks ago that it was just too good to be true.
My doubts about his action boiled down to one question: What, specifically, was Jones kneeling for in that moment?
Was Jones actually kneeling in support of Black Lives Matter? Was he protesting the president’s comments in which he called NFL players who kneel during the anthem sons of bitches? Were his players so disgusted with 45 that Jones decided to take a knee with them just for the night as a show of solidarity with them and their concerns?
Any of those would have worked. But, as it turns out, Jones had no such moment of clarity. We can now say that for certain since, after yet another Cowboys loss to Green Bay, he proclaimed that any player on his Dallas Cowboys who “disrespects” the flag in any way will be benched.
“If there’s anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play,” Jones said in a gaggle after the game. “Understand? We will not … if we are disrespecting the flag, then we will not play. Period.”
Is this incident of life imitating fake news even remotely surprising? Of course not. There’s just no way that the owner of the football team that I grew up loving — and always will love — is woke enough to support his players (and others across the NFL) who are protesting against police brutality and institutional racism. Never forget, this is a guy who donated $1 million to Donald Trump’s inauguration and who has steadily thrown his support behind strict conservative political candidates.
Surprise or no, though, what Jones is implying with his comments from after the Green Bay loss are not to be ignored. It’s imperative that everyone understands good and well what he’s saying here — that he doesn’t respect his players as people. They are not entitled to their own opinions. They’re just here to play football, and that’s it.
Maybe you agree with that mentality. Fine. Just know that by expressing that, you’re enjoying the very freedom that these players are trying to use when they take a knee.
Jones obviously doesn’t understand this, given his now-clear position that he doesn’t think his players should be allowed to use the national platform that they have worked their entire lives to reach as a means to advocate for social justice and racial equality.
That we’ve come to this point isn’t a shock. This is the story of the United States. White men own the resources, and the people they employ have to ignore their desires and own humanity to stay in line with what those men want.
What really gets me is that Jones knelt alongside his players in the first place. Looking back, there’s no doubt that it was disingenuous of him to do so — and foolish, too. There’s a strong chance that plenty of players in the Cowboys locker room, and many Cowboys fans of color, are now feeling as if the man at the helm of their team has just blatantly betrayed them and their trust.
It’s at times like these when we fans should really do some soul searching. We didn’t do it, though, when the Cowboys signed Greg Hardy, a known domestic abuser. Out of duty and allegiance, we stood by the team then because we thought that move wasn’t indicative of the team and organization as a whole. We gave Jones and his front office the benefit of the doubt, assuming that they knew something we didn’t — basically the exact generosity that Jones is refusing to extend to his players and fans now.
Instead, Jones has now verbally confirmed that he values a national symbol more than the lives of entire demographics of people who walk through life being judged by police officers and government institutions based on the color of their skin.
Being one of those people makes me think it is indeed time I finally reconsidered my relationship with the Cowboys — and it tears me up inside. I love this team. I cherish the memories I have of watching nail-biting games with my friends and family.
But, at the end of the day, I value the lives of people of color more than I value a game.
I just wish Mr. Jones did too.
Cover image via Wikimedia Commons.