OXNARD, Calif. — Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones will not bend on his edict that his players will stand for the national anthem before games, but he wishes President Donald Trump would not bring the controversy up as often as he does.
“His interest in what we’re doing is problematic, from my chair, and I would say in general the owners’ chair,” Jones said at Wednesday’s news conference to open training camp in Oxnard, California. “It’s unprecedented, if you really think about it. But like the very game itself, that’s the way it is and we’ll deal with it.
“We feel strongly about how we deal with it and we’ll do so accordingly, but, yes, I, like everybody, would like for it to go away.”
When the anthem issue reached a fervor last season, Jones spoke with President Trump on multiple occasions. The president has raised the issue multiple times in the offseason and even recently, saying players should be suspended if they choose to take a knee.
At the spring owners’ meetings, the NFL announced a new policy that would require players to stand for the anthem. If players do not want to be on the sideline, they could remain in the locker room. In the past, the policy stated players should stand but it was not required.
Jones, when asked if he would support a player who remained in the locker room, said: “Our policy is that you stand at the anthem, toe on the line.”
Last week, the league and the NFL Players Association issued a joint statement that said “no new rules relating to the anthem will be issued or enforced for the next several weeks” while both sides continue to hold discussions to figure out how to move forward.
“The NFL and NFLPA, through recent discussions, have been working on a resolution to the anthem issue,” the joint statement said. “In order to allow this constructive dialogue to continue, we have come to a standstill agreement on the NFLPA’s grievance and on the NFL’s anthem policy.
“The NFL and NFLPA reflect the great values of America, which are repeatedly demonstrated by the many players doing extraordinary work in communities across our country to promote equality, fairness and justice. Our shared focus will remain on finding a solution to the anthem issue through mutual, good faith commitments, outside of litigation.”
With the suspension of the discussions, Jones said the teams do not have to file its anthem policy with the league. The Associated Press reported the Miami Dolphins could impose a four-game suspension for any player who protested during the anthem. However, multiple sources with the Dolphins and the NFL told ESPN that the Dolphins’ submission of their potential disciplinary policies was merely part of an annual filing required of every team before the start of training camp.
“Obviously I wouldn’t dare speak for any of the other owners, much less in general about 31 other owners,” Jones said. “But as far as the Dallas Cowboys are concerned, you know where I stand. Our team knows where I stand on the issue and that’s where we are.”