Dallas Cowboys owner and manager Jerry Jones has hardened his stance on protesting during the national anthem: stand up, or don’t play.
"If there's anything that's disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play," Jones told the team after Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers, according to ESPN
. "Understand? We will not... if we are disrespecting the flag, then we will not play. Period."
Jones' comments come weeks after the entire Cowboys team and coaching staff, including Jones, had linked arms and taken a knee
prior to their game on September 25. But, they stood up for the national anthem — a slightly different move compared to the more than a hundred players and coaches that had knelt during the anthem over the weekend. The wave of NFL players protesting by taking a knee during the national anthem came after President Donald Trump said at a rally that anyone who knelt during the anthem is a “son of a bitch” who should be fired
Trump reportedly called Jones — a friend and $1 million campaign donor — four times prior to the September 25 game, telling Jones not to let his team kneel during the national anthem, according to The Hill
. Two days after that game, Trump tweeted, “Spoke to Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys. Jerry is a winner who knows how to get things done. Players will stand for Country!”
This time around, the entire Cowboys team stood during the national anthem, and while no players took a knee, two raised a fist after the anthem.
“We as a team are very much on the page together,” Jones said to ESPN
. “We made our expression. I’m very supportive of the team, but under no circumstances will the Dallas Cowboys — I don’t care what happens — under no circumstances will we as an organization, coaches, players, not support and stand and recognize and honor the flag. Period.”
Jones made his comments the same day Vice President Mike Pence walked out of the 49-ers-Colts game after players knelt during the national anthem.
“I left today’s Colts game because President Trump and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, our National Anthem… While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, I don’t think it’s too much to ask NFL players to respect the Flag and our National Anthem,” Pence said on Twitter
“I asked @VP Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country. I am proud of him and @SecondLady Karen,” Trump tweeted after the move
It appears that for Jones, the decision to kneel and stand on September 25, was a one-time-only expression of unity, and he’s ready to move on.
“If it comes between the impression or the perception that we’re not standing together, supporting each other, or the perception that we’re disrespecting the flag, the perception that we’re not together will be secondary to not respecting the flag,” Jones told ESPN
. “Respecting the flag is first."
The Cowboys lost the game to the Packers, 31-35.