Jerry Jones has been steadfast in his belief that players should stand for the national anthem, but the Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager did not reiterate that policy will be in effect in 2020.
Jones said he has talked to “double handfuls” of people, including President Donald Trump, a former president and current and former players about what to do.
“We’re going to show grace. I’m going to show grace. And I’d like to show that kind of grace on a sensitive matter,” Jones said Wednesday, talking to the media for the first time in 109 days. “Everybody is genuine here. I’m giving everyone the benefit of the doubt relative to any decision that I make. I have one thing: My job is to run the Dallas Cowboys. My job is to do what’s right. We’ve asked for all of this interest, and we’ve asked for our players to give everything they’ve got.
“So I want to sit down when I have an issue, I have a decision to make, I want to show the world that I can do it with grace and come up with the right solution. I don’t know what we’re going to be faced with here a month from now or two months from now. … Our players have always been open-eared for anything that I have to offer and I’ve been open-eared for what they have to offer, and that’s what we’ll do.”
When the issue arose in 2017, Jones required his players to stand, “toes on the line,” for the anthem.
“That was then, this is now,” Jones said. “We’re going to have grace.”
In 2017, Jones took a knee with his players before the national anthem for a game in Arizona and then stood arm-in-arm with them during the anthem. Last year, the Cowboys had two players, Robert Quinn and Michael Bennett, who had protested in the past with previous teams. Quinn, who raised his fist in Miami, stood for the anthem, while Bennett, who remained in the locker room while with New England for the anthem, also stood but paced back and forth.
Two of the newer Cowboys, Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe, said in the offseason that they wished Jones would have made a comment regarding the social unrest in the United States that was amplified by the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis. Jones has not had a direct conversation with either player.
“Am I interested in what any player, what any of our media, am I interested in what everybody has to say about any issue? You bet,” Jones said. “And I have rabbit ears. I really do. Having said that, I am listening. The point is, we will do it in a way we think is a sensitive and has as much grace for the genuine feelings of everybody in mind.”
Quarterback Dak Prescott said he looked at Jones’ silence from the owner’s perspective.
“He was trying to listen and gather everything he can before he came out and said his simple view. Because of his background and his beliefs, all that is different than a lot of other people,” Prescott said. “Not that he can’t relate, but it may be tough for him to relate to what other people may be going through right now. I don’t think he just wanted to speak with [urgency] and say something wrong. It’s tough.”
Prescott said the players have had conversations about some form of protest when the season starts. While he could not say whether the Cowboys would do something as a team or on an individual basis, his hope is “as a football team you want to represent one group.”
“The best part of football is it represents, in a sense, the country,” Prescott said. “Different people from different economic backgrounds, different social backgrounds, different beliefs, religions, color. Any way you think of, the football team is compiled of all kinds of different places and backgrounds where they come from. We all come together for one common goal, and that is to support each other and go win. I think in anything that we do, we want to represent how we can come together and how we can be as one. That is what this country needs to be right now.”