NFL owner's surprising response to historic anthem protest

Yahoo Sports Staff
·4-min read
Pictured here, Cowboys player Dontari Poe kneels during the anthem before an NFL match.
Dontari Poe became the first player in Dallas Cowboys history to kneel during the national anthem. Pic: NBC Sports

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was notably silent as football season approached with the NFL engulfed in the nation’s larger race reckoning.

As the league shifted its stance to match public sentiment on player protests, the normally outspoken NFL team owner had nothing to say publicly on the matter.

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Now the season has started. A Cowboy has knelt. And Jones is back to his regularly scheduled media rounds.

On Tuesday, he addressed the scenes from Sunday night’s pre-game against the Los Angeles Rams that saw Dallas defensive tackle Dontari Poe take a knee during the national anthem.

Poe's actions certainly divided NFL fans on social media.

Jones, who famously vowed in 2018 that Cowboys players would always stand for the anthem with a “toe on the line”, gave a shock response of his own to Poe's decision to kneel.

Making his weekly radio appearance on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, Jones curiously decided not to criticise Poe, who became the first player in Dallas Cowboys history to kneel during the national anthem.

“I thought our players, I thought they gave it sensitivity,” Jones said when asked about his team’s response to Poe.

“They showed respect to Poe’s decision. I think they certainly did ... show a sensitivity to our fans as a team. ... All in all, I thought our team was very real and very genuine in the way it approached it.”

Jones did not endorse nor condemn Poe’s decision and moved on to another topic when no follow-up question was asked.

Poe was the only Dallas player to take a knee. The newly signed Cowboy vowed to do so during training camp, and followed through with his plan even as none of his Cowboys teammates joined him.

Defensive end Aldon Smith and defensive tackle Antwaun Woods stood by Poe during his protest, each with a hand on his shoulder.

Jones’ in-game response

NBC cameras focused on Jones as Poe knelt, with the Cowboys owner appearing to do a double-take as he watched proceedings.

Poe’s response

Poe told reporters that some of his teammates tried to talk him out of kneeling alone, but in the end he felt supported in his protest against police brutality and racial injustice.

“I had already told teammates and coaches that I was going to it,” Poe said.

“That’s where my head was at. My teammates were telling me that they didn’t want me to do it by myself, alone, because we’re a team. But I had told them my mind was already made up and I felt this way.

“And if they didn’t, don’t do it. Don’t do it unless your heart is there like mine was. I appreciate my guys for sticking with me, for being behind me.”

with Yahoo Sports US