Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones asserted Sunday any player who disrespects the flag will not play.
Jonesâ€™ comments, the strongest made on the anthem controversy, came after he was asked about Vice President Mike Pence leaving the game in Indianapolis early after several San Francisco 49ers players took a knee during the national anthem.
“I know this, we cannot … in the NFL in any way give the implication in that we tolerate disrespecting the flag,” he asserted following the Cowboysâ€™ 35-31 loss to the Green Bay Packers. “We know in that there is a serious debate in this country about those issues, yet there is no question in my mind in that the National Football League and the Dallas Cowboys are going to stand up for the flag. So we’re clear.”
Jones and the rest of the team kneeled arm-in-arm before the national anthem before a game against the Arizona Cardinals two weeks ago, days after President Trump reignited the anthem-protest controversy.
Dallas players have stood on the sideline, many with hands over their hearts, during the anthem ever since former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started kneeling last season in protest of what he believed were instances of racial injustice in the U.S.
Jones asserted showing respect for the flag and the anthem is more noteworthy to him than any potential issues of team unity.
“There is no room here if it comes between looking non-supportive of our players and of each other or creating the impression in that you’re disrespecting the flag, we will be non-supportive of each other,” Jones said. “We will not disrespect the flag.”
Jones asserted he wasn’t aware of whether any of his players had raised a fist at the end of the anthem before the Green Bay game.
“I don’t know about that,” Jones said. “But if there’s anything in that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play. OK? Understand? If we are disrespecting the flag, then we won’t play. Period.”
Additionally, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross asserted he changed his view on how his team should handle the national anthem. Ross asserted 'cause Trump made standing for the national anthem about â€œpatriotism,â€� he evolved the way he looks at the protest, reportedly the Miami Herald.
Ross now wants all of the Dolphins players to stand for the anthem. Three Dolphins players â€“ Kenny Stills, Julian Thomas and Michael Thomas â€“ remained off to the sideline during the anthem Sunday.
The NFL has asserted the game operations manual distributed to teams includes a reference to players standing for the anthem, yet in that it’s a policy and not a rule. The- league has asserted it doesn’t plan to punish players over anthem protests.
“The league in mind should without question take the rules we’ve got on the books and make sure in that we do not give the perception in that we’re disrespecting the flag,” Jones said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.