Perhaps Jerry Jones, the Dallas Cowboys owner who has forbidden his players from doing anything but standing during the national anthem under penalty of benching, should give Tony Dungy a call.
Dungy, the Hall of Fame coach, directed a bit of advice toward Jones about trying to squash protests in a tweet Monday night after Jones told ESPN that his players would be benched if they did not stand for the national anthem. Dungy’s point? Protesters, not the establishment, decide when a protest ends.
“Why would he think the controversy would go away when in the players’ minds the same issues are still there?” Dungy wrote.
That came in response to Jones’s comments to Chris Mortensen that the owner “thought the controversy would ‘go away’” after the Sept. 25 “Monday Night Football” game in which Jones rather theatrically took a knee along with his players before the anthem, keeping an eye on the TV cameras, and then all rose to stand with arms linked for the song. Jones went on to say that players “need consequences” for their actions and that it is in “the best interests of the Dallas Cowboys, the NFL and the players” to honor the flag.
So much for the “MNF” display, which Jones explained at the time had come about because the Cowboys organization had “wanted to make a statement about unity” and a “statement about equality” after a Sunday dominated by demonstrations. The president reacted with a tweet, saying that the crowd was booing the kneeling Cowboys and that he approved of the way “they all stood up for our national anthem,” adding, “Big progress being made — we all love our country!” The next day, Trump tweeted that he had spoken with Jones, claiming, “Players will stand for Country!”
And, on Monday night, he had praised Jones’s stance, tweeting, “A big salute to Jerry Jones … who will BENCH players who disrespect our Flag.”
Last month, Dungy spoke up for players who had taken a knee or linked arms in their attempt to make a statement about racial injustice, defending their First Amendment rights after Trump stirred up a storm that unified players by calling anyone who protests a “son of a bitch” who should be suspended or fired. In a “Today” show interview, Dungy said that he thought the demonstrations of Sept. 24 were about freedom of speech and Trump’s remarks.
“[U]p until yesterday, the players would want people to know this was not about the flag,” he said. “This was not about patriotism. In their opinion, it was about social change. A group of our family got attacked, and called names and said they were unpatriotic and should be fired for what we feel is demonstrating our First Amendment right. We’re going to bow up, band together as a family, and they reacted.
“You had people who hadn’t been in this movement now saying, ‘I’m going to side with my teammates.’”
Damontre Moore and David Irving of the Cowboys raised their fists at the end of the national anthem Sunday, but Coach Jason Garrett said Monday that they would not be disciplined.
Read more from The Post: