For the most part, the national anthem issue has become a thing of the past for the NFL. A Thursday transaction could make it a flash point all over again.
The Cowboys have traded for defensive end Robert Quinn. Quinn has a clear and established history of raising a fist during the anthem. “I won’t stop until they get rid of me,” Quinn told SI.com last August.
The Cowboys, in contrast, have a clear and established history of making it clear that their players will stand at attention during the anthem, with no protests of any kind.
Owner Jerry Jones has been unequivocal about the team’s rules, and his son, Stephen, has made it even more plain and obvious that being a Cowboy means not deviating from the team’s expectations.
“We certainly are supportive of them when they have their personal issues or their personal things that they want to pursue,” Stephen Jones said last July. “And we’ll help them pursue them on Tuesdays. But when you’re wearing the Dallas Cowboy uniform and a Dallas Cowboy helmet and you’re working for the Dallas Cowboys, you check the ‘I’ and the ‘me’ at the door and you’re a part of a team. There’s bright lines in terms of our organization.”
Asked whether Cowboys players will stand at attention for the anthem, Stephen Jones kept it simple and direct: “If they want to be a Dallas Cowboy, yes.”
Quinn is now a Cowboy, and it remains to be seen whether he will indeed continue to do something that the Cowboys have said they won’t tolerate. And it remains to be seen whether, in that elusive quest for a return to “gloryhole,” Jerry Jones will let Old Glory get in the way.