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.
Dontari Poe, first ever on Cowboys team to kneel. I've been a Cowboy's fan for 50 years...I'll never watch again. America's team is DEAD. pic.twitter.com/RaZMpsFcEs— Carol Armstrong (@CarolAr28834617) September 14, 2020
Jerry Jones to Dontari Poe tomorrow for kneeling during the anthem (hopefully) pic.twitter.com/z4HTcUYrrp— Stephen (@slegath) September 14, 2020
BIG shoutout to Dontari Poe, who had the courage to kneel during the National Anthem.— Metal Mixael (@MetalMixael) September 14, 2020
I hope more and more Cowboys players kneel each week. It’s a shame Jerry Jones is trying to take away the players freedom to kneel. #NFL #DallasCowboys #DALvsLA
Who was the lone Cowboys player that took a knee tonight? Didn’t watch but saw on twitter that one did. Hope to hell Jerry Jones cuts his ass tomorrow 😡— Jennifer Theriot (@JenTheRiot) September 14, 2020
I was not a Dontari Poe fan when he was with the Chiefs, but good on him to flip off Jerry Jones and kneel during the National Anthem. Normally, I stand, but anything that flips off rich jerks is fine by me.— #VoteGreen2020 #LearnMMT 🌹 (@NoFascistLies) September 14, 2020
Dontari Poe makes Cowboys history before playing his first snap. He is the first Dallas player to kneel during the national anthem. Mike McCarthy said these decisions would be made individually and supported. https://t.co/MsiOeJkwOl— Ed Werder (@WerderEdESPN) September 14, 2020
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 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