Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is the latest NFL owner to speak out against the player protests that have dominated headlines throughout the season thus far.
Jones said on Monday “If there’s anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play,” insinuating an ultimatum aimed at his Cowboys players to either stand for the anthem or sit on the bench.
It’s a bold, yet controversial move by Jones, especially considering he kneeled with the team collectively before the anthem just two weeks ago.
The problem? He, along with other NFL owners are intentionally shifting a racial injustice issue into a patriotism issue. The NFL wants the protests to go away since they are alienating certain fans and causing growing tension between players and owners.
Vice President Mike Pence added more fuel to the fire by leaving the 49ers-Colts contest early after his apparent disgust with players kneeling.
I left today's Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem.
— Vice President Pence (@VP) October 8, 2017
Pence’s actions, which many have legitimately suspected were staged — since it was more likely than not that some 49ers players would continue to protest, as they have all season — were eventually backed up by President Donald Trump, unsurprisingly.
This continued criticism from Trump, Pence, and others has ratcheted up the pressure on owners like Jones, who was reportedly one of many to donate a million dollars or more to the Trump campaign.
I’m not here to judge anyone’s political affiliations, you’re entitled to believe whatever you want – which makes this country great. However, politics, patriotism and the military have unnecessarily entered this discussion, causing more frustration on both sides.
Colin Kaepernick took a knee, quietly, as a backup quarterback last season for a cause he was extremely clear about. He was unhappy with racial injustices, mainly fueled by the unarmed killings of African Americans by the police.
— John Haltiwanger (@jchaltiwanger) September 23, 2017
This is an issue that epitomizes the current tensions in our country between blacks and whites, Democrats and Republicans, and many, many others. But the point is that wherever you stand on this issue, we cannot forget that Kaepernick’s cause, which started this whole spectacle, was not about dishonoring the flag, military or veterans.
Now, whether you believe Kaepernick is being blackballed, or that he’s just too much of a distraction in the current climate of the NFL to deserve a roster spot is a different debate. Let’s simply not forget his original message.
Jones’ recent comments only reinforce the belief that his kneeling, along with the collective unity theme across the league in Week 3, was nothing more than an attempt by NFL owners to squash these protests once and for all.
What those in disagreement with these protests want you to believe is that these players are disrespecting this great country as a whole. But when you actually hear what they have to say, though, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Listen to Chiefs defensive back Eric Reid speak after Pence’s walkout below.
— Dakota Crawford (@DakotaCrawford_) October 8, 2017
My final question to you, whether you agree or disagree with my opinion on this issue, is: are we not the greatest country on the planet because we continue to strive for improvement? Isn’t freedom of speech, religion, and the right to believe whatever the hell we want what makes us different from other countries?
In 2017, threatening a player’s job because of their desire to peacefully protest a perceived injustice is, quite frankly, unamerican. It’s okay if you disagree with kneeling, but we should respect their right to do so, and not forget the original reasoning behind it.