On Wednesday, he ended his uncharacteristic silence after 109 days (by ESPN’s count), admitting that times have changed. “That was then, two years ago. This is now,” he told reporters. “We have had very, very sensitive times. I don’t need to share that we’re also embroiled in a very other sensitive time with the challenge and the war, literally, with the [novel coronavirus].”
In 2017, when players taking a knee for the anthem was a national debate fueled by President Trump, Jones threatened any player who didn’t stand with benching. Before a Monday night game that year, Jones and the Cowboys joined arms and took a knee before the anthem, then stood with arms linked for it.
Jones, as he is prone to do, talked at length and wasn’t clear about his plans, but he used the words “grace” and “understanding” in an effort to reconcile his feelings and those of the players.
“These are very sensitive times. I have nothing to prove as far as where I’m standing with the flag and where the Cowboys stand. I have nothing to prove regarding my players and my support of our players. What I do want to show and want us all to be a part of is a word called grace. Grace,” he said. “Not only grace in our actions but grace in our understanding of where they’re coming from. ...
“I’m going to have grace. I’ve had grace,” he continued. “Many of you have written and criticized me for having too much grace and understanding regarding our players, and I probably have. And I’m going to have grace regarding the people that are sensitive about our flag. Somewhere in between there as the weeks, as we get together with our team, as we discuss with the team, somewhere in between there is how we’re going to handle it.”
Times may have changed, but Jones added that the appearance of games at AT&T Stadium would not, despite the coronavirus. Jones said the size of his stadium will allow for social distancing, and he added that he predicted that the NFL schedule will not be shortened by the pandemic. The team will follow local and state protocols regarding attendance; the state of Texas allows 50 percent capacity for sports events.
“The Dallas Cowboys plan on playing all of our football games,” he said, “and we plan on playing them in front of our fans.”
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