As of Oct. 9, 2017, Jerry Jone, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, has threatened to bench any NFL player from the Dallas Cowboys who decides to kneel during the national anthem. Jones found the trend of NFL players kneeling during the anthem as disrespectful and a violation of an NFL policy which has been around for years. The policy states, “The National Anthem must be played prior to every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the National Anthem. 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. 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. 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 policy is to make sure that the National Anthem is played before every game, and tells the instruction of how each player should act in public. The policy doesn’t touch upon the kneeling of players. Jones reportedly spoke about how he agreed with Mike Pence’s decision to leave a football game because of players kneeling, although the whole ordeal was staged. Jones reportedly said to the Cowboys, “If there’s anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play. Understand? We will not … if we are disrespecting the flag, then we will not play. Period.” Is exercising the right to protest disrespecting the flag? What Jones does not understand is that the NFL players who have been kneeling are not disrespecting the flag, but protesting the mistreatment of minorities and the events that are happening in the United States. These NFL players are kneeling for the victims of the Las Vegas shooting, in support of #BlackLivesMatter, and of all the different social issues happening in America. By kneeling for the flag, the men are still showing respect to the flag but acknowledging that the country is still filled with problems.
Jones, who is one of the richest owners of any NFL team, does have the power to remove a player because they are breaking the policy, but he cannot continuously do so without going into a legal battle with the NFL. Owners have a say in what their team does to an extent, but when it comes to which players can play in what context, the NFL has the overarching power. If a Dallas Cowboy were to kneel, and Jones benches them; then the NFL has the right to pursue a legal battle over what person has control over the coaching of the team.
Many people who have been against the NFL players are supporting Jones decision to threaten the Dallas Cowboys, but many people have spoken out against this decision like Jemele Hill from ESPN. She has been suspended for two weeks from ESPN for talking out against Jones decision on Twitter.Will Jerry Jones back off from his threat if a Cowboy actually does kneel during the National Anthem? We will have to see the effect of this threat when the Cowboys play the 49ers on Sunday, October 22.