Colin Kaepernick and his black oppression protest can take a hike. That is the sentiment of one owner of an NFL franchise, or at least that’s the rumor. It’s the team that fancies itself “America’s team,” and the one the rest of the country loves to hate. That team? The Dallas Cowboys, and supposedly with a blistering statement to his players, coaches, and trainers, owner Jerry Jones redeemed himself a bit in this writer’s eyes after building that billion dollar phallic symbol he calls a stadium.
(I want this to be true, but news outlets are not reporting it. It’s just running around Facebook at this point. Rush Limbaugh picked it up, so the chances of it being true and suppressed…you decide.)
“You are all simply paid performers on a stage and that field is my stage! You will stand, with your hand over your heart and with respect, when our Country’s National Anthem is being played or you will no longer be a Dallas Cowboy, a Coach for the Dallas Cowboys or have any association with the Dallas Cowboy Organization! I will immediately fire you, no matter who you are!”
“You gentlemen are world class athletes, but you are also actors. You perform on a stage that is 100 yards long. Today, you play the role of a patriotic super hero. You will play this role well because you know that millions of children will be watching and looking at your example.”
According to Snopes, the quotes originated with a post by a Facebook User named Richie Newberry, are incorrectly attributed, and the event never happened. (So, some guy is just a creative writer, and one team didn’t protest when all the others had at least one person?? The original post has a lot of detail for someone who wasn’t a witness or a fiction writer.) However, no member of Jones’ team took a knee on September 11, when so many other players went out of their way to be obnoxious about the protest. This is what Jones had to say about that later.
“I got to give a big pat on the back to our entire team, our coaching staff, our entire organization,” Jones said. “We strongly, strongly support the flag. In every way, we support — it’s almost ridiculous to be saying it — the people that for generations and generations have given it all up so we can get out here and show off in front of millions of people on television. We respect that so much. That’s the real business.
“The forum of the NFL and the forum on television is a very significant thing. I’m for it being used in every way we can to support the great, great contributors in our society and that’s people that have supported America, the flag, and there’s no reason not to go all out right there. For anybody to use parts of that visibility to do otherwise is really disappointing.”
Anyone in public relations recognizes the statement as a memorized talking point, but that, of course, was not what commentators focused on. They were more interested in Jones making money off of black athletes. (They could always work doing something else, but….) According to one, before 2009, the teams were in the locker rooms for the Anthem, and in 2009 the U.S. Department of Defense and National Guard paid the NFL to have the players stand for it, and for it to be televised. Therefore, Steven Smith is the guy’s name, this whole Jones outrage thing is faux, and all about money.
Really, when one thinks about it, other major American sports don’t regularly broadcast the Anthem – at least hockey and baseball don’t – but anyone who attends the games knows that the players stand on the sideline, bench, in the field, or on the blue lines (hockey) with their caps and helmets removed for the singing. It’s not just at the showcase games. It’s EVERY game – and at Chicago Blackhawks games, the fans stand and cheer straight through it. NASCAR and professional soccer do broadcast the Anthems, and in soccer, anyway, everyone sings with their arms linked. American players put their left hand on the shoulder of the player next to them since their right hands are over their hearts when at international tournaments.
So, did it really happen? Is Jerry Jones really a hero for putting his foot down? Or is his team not protesting because he doesn’t want to lose money in a breach of contract? We may never know. But it is revealing that football players seem to think their status in life entitles them to disrespect one of the major symbols of the nation based on a knowledge of history that leaves out a lot of facts.