NFL owner who knelt with players during anthem now says 'disrespect' for the flag will not be tolerated
One of the most powerful owners in the NFL says that any player who disrespects the flag won't play.
Jerry Jones, owner of the league's flagship franchise, the Dallas Cowboys, was asked to comment on Vice President Mike Pence walking out of the stadium following an anthem protest in Indianapolis.
"I don't know about that. But if there is anything that is disrespectful to the flag then we will not play," Jones said after the Cowboys' 35-31 loss. "You understand? If we are disrespecting the flag then we won't play. Period.
"We're going to respect the flag, and I'm going to create the perception of it. And we have."
Jones addressed the media for 22 minutes after the game. He spent the final seven minutes talking about how he's adamant that Cowboys and other NFL players should stand for the national anthem in the wake of dozens of players around the league kneeling the first five weeks of the season.
Jones was singing a different tune a couple of weeks ago.
Jones was asked about his thoughts on Pence leaving the 49ers-Colts game.
"We cannot in the NFL in any way give the implication that we tolerate disrespecting the flag," Jones said. "I know the vice president did leave, because in his opinion the teams were. We know that there is a serious debate in this country about those issues, but there is no question in my mind that the National Football League and the Dallas Cowboys are going to stand up for the flag. Just so we're clear.
"I'm saying our vice president, if in his opinion, there's disrespect of the flag then he should express himself however he wants to say. He's got rights, too. He felt that not standing for the flag is disrespectful. I do, too. The league in my mind should absolutely take the rules we've got on the books and make sure that we do not give the perception that we're disrespecting the flag."
Jones legitimized the protests by kneeling with his team. Now he has done a complete 180 and is threatening the livelihood of players who kneel for the anthem. Which Jerry Jones should we believe?
Obviously, Jones's change of heart is the result of the developing serious impact on the bottom line of NFL teams and the league. Beyond that, the NFL brand has been damaged perhaps beyond repair. Owners are getting frantic about the league bleeding TV viewers and the perception that the league tolerates disrespect for America.
Jones may be trying to retrieve and irretrievable situation. However, his stance on the protests is too little, too late.
He and the players have sown the wind. Now let them reap the whirlwind.