Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott has gotten an earful since he told reporters last week that he doesn’t think a football game “is the time or the venue” for demonstrations and protests during the national anthem, a stance that was more closely aligned with owner Jerry Jones than with many of his co-workers.
Prescott is trying his best to set the record straight, saying this week that he wasn’t oblivious to the criticism, and trying to explain what sets him apart from Jones, whose my-way-or-the-highway position reportedly led the NFL to stifle him as it tries to work out a viable anthem policy with the NFL Players Association.
“You get on social media you see it. It doesn’t bother me,” Prescott told Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I said what I said. You have an opinion. Everyone else has an opinion. They are entitled to it as well. I accepted what they said and respect it. They should respect mine.”
Prescott’s opinion from last week? “I never protest during the anthem, and I don’t think that’s the time or the venue to do so,” he said. “The game of football has always brought me such peace, and I think it does the same for a lot of people — a lot of people playing the game, a lot of people watching the game, a lot of people who have any impact of the game — so when you bring such controversy to the stadium, to the field, to the game, it takes away. It takes away from that, it takes away from the joy and the love that football brings a lot of people.
“For me, I’m all about making a change and making a difference, and I think this whole kneeling and all of that was just about raising awareness and the fact that we’re still talking about social injustice years later, I think we’ve gotten to that point. I think we’ve proved, we know the social injustice. I’m up for taking the next step whatever the next step may be for action and not just kneeling. I’ve always believed standing up for what I believe in, and that’s what I’m going to continue to do.”
Not everyone heard all of that, though.
The Raiders’ Tahir Whitehead tweeted that “it looks like Dak don’t [sic] want to lose that Campbell’s Chunky Soup deal!” The Undefeated defended him by using the headline: “Dak Prescott isn’t a race traitor because he thinks there’s a better way to protest.” Prescott became the subject of endless debate on sports networks and radio stations. And Twitter was on fire over the matter.
“I think there was a little misunderstanding of the fact of what I believe in,” Prescott told Hill. “I never said I didn’t believe in social injustice and things that were going on. I just said I didn’t think that the national anthem was the time. It’s two minutes out of our day that we could also be spending embracing what our country should be and what our country is going to be one day that we know that it’s not right now. That is the sad part about it — that it’s not.
“I respect everybody. And power to the people that kneel. That is what they believe in and they should be able to kneel. For me, the game of football has been such a peace. It’s a moment for me to be at peace and think about all the great things our country does have even though we know it’s not a good for us right now.”
As he said, he prefers community involvement to symbolism.
“I am for the action,” Prescott said. “I am for joining [the Philadelphia Eagles’] Malcolm [Jenkins] and joining those guys in doing something different. That is what I mean my taking that next step rather than just kneeling or standing. I don’t think kneeling or standing is creating a solution for us.”
Jones helped resurrect the national anthem debate last week, saying that “our policy [for players] is you stand for the anthem, toe on the line.” Stephen Jones, the Cowboys’ executive vice president, took his father’s position to another level, saying players should stand on the sideline “if they want to be a Dallas Cowboy.” Although Jerry Jones later added that Trump’s “interest in what we’re doing is problematic,” the president offered his support for Jones, one of the NFL owners taking a hard line on the issue, in a tweet: “Way to go Jerry. This is what the league should do!”
Richard Sherman, now with the San Francisco 49ers, blasted Jones for his “old plantation mentality,” adding, “What did you expect?”
That led to reports that Jones had been told by the NFL to pipe down as it and the NFLPA try to work out an agreement, with the regular season bearing down Sept. 6.
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