Owner Jerry Jones said the Cowboys will stand for the national anthem or else. His postgame comments were the first time he publicly and definitively has laid down the law, though everyone believed that was the team’s stance on the national anthem.
Jones’ comments came after Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News asked the owner about two players — David Irving and Damontre Moore — raising their fists at the end of the anthem Sunday. Jones said he did not see the raised fists.
“If there’s anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play,” Jones said in his postgame interviews. “OK? Understand? If we are disrespecting the flag, then we won’t play. Period. Period.
“We’re going to respect the flag, and I’m going to create the perception of it. And we have. I’m not aware and wouldn’t know what you’re talking about. I’m not aware of that. . . . We as a team are very much on the page together. We have made our expression that we’re together.”
Vice President Mike Pence, who previously served as the governor of Indiana, tweeted he left Sunday’s game between San Francisco and Indianapolis after 23 49ers players took a knee.
“I’m saying our vice president of the United States, if in his opinion there’s disrespect of the flag, then he should – he basically should — express himself however he wants to,” Jones said. “He’s got rights, too, so however he wants to do it. He felt that not standing for the flag is disrespectful. I do, too. The league, in my 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 also referred to the game-day operations manual when asked about his conversation with President Trump after the Cowboys took a knee before the national anthem and then rose for it in Arizona in Week 3. The NFL’s game operations manual says: “During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking. The home team should ensure that the American flag is in good condition. It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect for the flag and our country.”
It adds that “failure to be on the field by the start of the National Anthem may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses.”
The NFL issued a statement the first time Colin Kaepernick didn’t stand last year, saying, “Players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the National Anthem.”
More recently, NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart said the league believes “our players have a right to express themselves.”
“It’s the rules that are on the book in my opinion,” Jones said. “But we are going to stand for the flag, and we’ve done that. We’ve kneeled in support of each other before the national anthem, and we’ve stood for the national anthem. We’ve always done that. There’s no equivocation. We’ll stand for the flag.”