The Cowboys have never had a player protest during the national anthem, with the players having adhered to owner Jerry Jones’ edict to stand “with toes on the line.”
That will change Sunday.
Defensive tackle Dontari Poe, who signed with the Cowboys during the offseason, already has said he plans to kneel, and running back Ezekiel Elliott confirmed in an interview for today’s PFTPM Podcast that some teammates will join the protest against social injustice.
Jones appeared to soften his stance on the national anthem last week on his radio show, allowing for wiggle room due to “the times we’re in.”
He was asked two questions about the national anthem Tuesday morning.
“That is a huge issue. Huge,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan, via Jon Machota of TheAthletic.com. “You know by just the nature of the way that I run the team, how much I appreciate the interest that’s in the Dallas Cowboys. Now, I know there’s interest just because they want to see us get beat, but still the big interest is there. I’m very sensitive to that. That’s exactly why I have said that I want our players to be very sensitive to just how important it is to the majority of our fans, more than any other team, the majority of our fans how sensitive they are recognizing what this great country is and what the flag stands for. Everybody knows where I stand, and there’s no equivocation there at all. I feel fortunate to be a part of the entity, the Dallas Cowboys, and a sport that has that much interest. Consequently, I want everybody to understand that if any player that is standing out there has a serious, serious, serious awareness of the kind of sensitivity that is there, and they ask for help with that in mind. In a way that you would ask for help. It’s not good to be obstreperous or anything if you’re asking people to see through your eyes and see it in your way. It’s important to show the kind of grace. I’m very confident that on both sides, our players as well as our fans, that we can come together for grace. It’s all about trying hard to move the ball forward to see where the other guy is coming from. Not necessarily to agree, but to see where he is coming from. I hope the Dallas Cowboys can be part of that just because that’s of interest in what we’re talking about.”
Jones obviously would prefer that players stand. He’s made that clear. But he also sounds resigned to the fact that some players are going to kneel this year.
A compromise, which Jones coordinated in 2017 when the entire team joined him in kneeling before the national anthem and standing for the anthem, appears highly unlikely this time.
Jones hopes fans won’t turn their backs on the team.
“I would expect the Cowboys to show great sensitivity, and I hope fans will receive it, however each individual presents it, that it’s a genuine ask for help, because right now in our society, we’ve got some things we need to address.” Jones said.