Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has made his first statements on protesting in sports, and specifically among members of the Dallas football team.
Jones, who was called out by Dallas players Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe earlier the offseason for his silence on the social justice issues plaguing the United States, on Wednesday Jones both clarified and muddled his stance on protests, specifically that of players planning protests during the 2020 NFL season.
When asked about his plans to approach the protests, Jones said he’ll exhibit “grace” when trying to understand where players are coming from and that he expects players to reciprocate that feeling.
The Cowboys owner said he’s been open about supporting players and their causes, but that hasn’t satisfied some players, including McCoy and Poe, who were critical of Jones’ silence in the wake of the death of George Floyd, which set off protests over racial injustice nationwide.
“It don’t look good, I’ll say that. It doesn’t look good, and you can’t be silent at a time like this. I’m new to the Cowboys organization, and I’m blessed to be part of this organization,” McCoy said via ESPN’s Ed Werder. “But when things are not going well for the team, you can hear him screaming. Well, this is life. This is bigger than just football; it’s bigger than money; it’s bigger than winning a Super Bowl. And something needs to be said.”
Poe added: “His silence definitely means a lot because in any other situation [he] will have something to say about most things. I was once a proponent of doing stuff behind closed doors, and doing what I need to do not out in the forefront. … So hopefully he is doing that, but who knows what he is doing. …
“Personally, I would hope that he comes out and says, ‘OK, I am willing to help, I am willing to fight, and I am willing to be with y’all.'”
Jones said he has not spoken to either Poe or McCoy, per Calvin Watkins.
In the past, Jones has been adamant players should stand for the national anthem, including in 2017 saying any player who kneels during the anthem would be benched.
“We know that there is a serious debate in this country about those issues, but there is no question in my mind, that the [NFL] and the Dallas Cowboys are going to stand up for the flag,” he said at the time.
With protests being staged in the name of racial justice and civil issues across the country following the killings of Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, professional athletes have felt emboldened to take stances for racial equality. The Cowboys released a video condemning racism in June, but Jones hadn’t spoken publicly on the issue until Wednesday.
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