The national anthem protests in the NFL have caused quite the stir well into the sixth week of the season. Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, has been one of the owners openly telling the media that his team needs to stand during the national anthem.
In a series of recent interviews, according to NBC Sports, he elaborated a little more on what he meant. In fact, he went on to explain how protesting the national anthem is hurting the sport overall. Jones explained, “All times, I want to do the right thing by them and their customers.” He went on to say, “I have a great responsibility to the people who support us. We all get great benefits from having a lot of people watch our games. All of us do.”
The original message during these protests was that there are racial issues in the United States. A message, Jones pointed out, that has been lost in the protests week after week.
Now, people are more focused on the act of taking a knee rather than any form of social injustice in the system. Jones is exactly right; no one is talking about racial injustices that may exist in the country. If the players protested in an effective way — off the field and in the societal trenches — it would be to their benefit.
The Dallas Cowboys are only one of six teams in the league that has not had a player protest the anthem. Jones facilitated this reality when he stated that if a player protested, they would be benched for their behavior.
“But our ability to be substantive is based on having a strong NFL, a league that people are really interested in and want to watch games. At all times, if I am anything, I am first and foremost a proponent of making the NFL strong. Making us have as many people watching the game as we can and watching in light of what we are doing, and that’s playing football,” Jones said.
Jones went on to say that if they want to fight for this message, there is nothing wrong with that. However, they need to find a way to protest that doesn’t tear down the NFL in the process.
It all came full circle when a member of the group Black Lives Matter accused Jones of treating his players “like a plantation owner.” Jones did not appreciate this comment.
“They don’t know me,” Jones said, “and I didn’t know them. I am well aware they don’t know me. To the extent that they were frustrated with me, they are wrong. Just wrong,” he said, addressing the BLM member’s remark.
These protests started last season when Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem. By the end of the year, it was all but forgotten. Upon discovering that Kaepernick couldn’t find a team and that he remained an unsigned free agent after backing out of his contract with the San Fransisco 49ers, the media circus started back up again.
Jerry Jones believes the NFL protests are hurting the sport and fan base. Will other team owners join him?
Suddenly, many members of the NFL started protesting as a way to fight against “racism,” including the notion that Kaepernick’s continued unemployment was an act of racism. Instead of looking at his race, it may be wise for them to look at the tension he has caused in the NFL as a whole since his first initial protest and the fact that his performance as a player declined.
If players aspire to stand or kneel for advocacy or what is right, it’s fine. However, once they start disrespecting a symbolic icon of the United States in an attempt to battle racism while refusing to partake in actual change efforts, people will continue to reject the form of protest.
Jones just may be on to something. Let’s see if the other teams follow suit.