Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told ESPN the team that policy prohibits players from playing if they “disrespect” the flag has been in effect since last season, when NFL players first started kneeling during the national anthem.
On Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence left an NFL game between the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers when players took a knee. Jones decided to address the Cowboy’s policy with reporters after Pence’s stunt.
“If there’s anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play,” Jones said Sunday, according to ESPN. “Understand? We will not … if we are disrespecting the flag, then we will not play. Period.”
Jones told ESPN on Monday that he considers not standing at the anthem disrespectful and unacceptable.
He continued, saying players “need consequences” to stand up to peer pressure, according to ESPN. He said “it’s in the best interests of the Dallas Cowboys, the NFL and the players,” to stand during the anthem.
President Donald Trump tweeted praise for Jones’ comments.
A big salute to Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, who will BENCH players who disrespect our Flag.”Stand for Anthem or sit for game!”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 10, 2017
Jones said the policy applies to all players, even the stars. Jones told ESPN that if a player communicated his unwillingness to adhere to the policy, he would be “made inactive for the game,” and if he took action during the anthem, “he simply would not play.”
Jones also discussed the league’s operations manual.
“The game ops manual has an ambiguity being used for those who don’t want to enforce it — the word ‘should’ stand for anthem is their ambiguity, but how can it be ambiguous when it cites the potential penalties of fines, suspension or loss of draft picks for failing to adhere?” Jones asked, according to ESPN.
— Kevin Seifert (@SeifertESPN) October 9, 2017
Jones told ESPN that he understands the social concerns that started the protests, but said he won’t compromise when it comes to the anthem.
On Sunday’s game, two Cowboys players, defensive ends Damontre Moore and David Irving, raised their fists at the end of the national anthem, reports ESPN, but the players will not be disciplined.