Jerry Jones already has stated that he expects Cowboys players to stand during the national anthem. The Cowboys owner hopes the rest of the league’s players follow suit for the sake of the NFL.
Jones spoke after the Cowboys’ 40-10 victory over the 49ers, the first time he has talked publicly since the NFL owners meetings last week. While Jones did not express disappointment that owners left New York without a rule mandating players stand for the anthem, he said the protests are hurting the NFL.
“There is no question the league is suffering negative effects from these protests,” Jones said, via Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Jones said some Cowboys sponsors have expressed “concerns” about the anthem protests.
“All times, I want to do the right thing by them and their customers,” Jones said. “I have a great responsibility to the people who support us. We all get great benefits from having a lot of people watch our games. All of us do.”
Jones said the players’ message has been lost in their protest, with the debate now about taking a knee rather than about social injustice.
The Cowboys are one of six teams not to have a player protest during the national anthem. Two weeks ago, Jones publicly declared that the Cowboys would bench any player protesting during the anthem.
“I care about a lot of things,” Jones said. “But our ability to be substantive is based on having a strong NFL, a league that people are really interested in and want to watch games. At all times, if I am anything, I am first and foremost a proponent of making the NFL strong. Making us have as many people watching the game as we can and watching in light of what we are doing and that’s playing football.
“If all this makes you stronger to represent messages, let’s don’t do it in a way that tears down the strength of the NFL.”
One Black Lives Matter protester in New York accused Jones of treating players “like a plantation owner.” Jones said they have it wrong.
“They don’t know me,” Jones said, “and I didn’t know them. I am well aware they don’t know me. To the extent that they were frustrated with me, they are wrong. Just wrong.”