Dak Prescott wants his Dallas Cowboys teammates to decide for themselves whether or not to protest during the national anthem.
Defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford says they have the “green light” to do so.
Owner Jerry Jones didn’t say it in so many words, but it looks like his hard-line stance requiring players to stand up during the anthem has eased amid a national account over racial justice.
When the Cowboys open the season next Sunday night at the Rams’ new home in Los Angeles, it seems clear that several players are likely to kneel down during “The Star-Spangled Banner” for the first time – four years after Colin Kaepernick took over. started the gesture to protest racial inequality and police brutality.
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“We all understand where I stand in relation to the national anthem and the flag. On the other hand, I really do recognize what time it is, ”Jones said on his radio show last week, after Prescott and Crawford offered their clues as to what was to come.
“I assure you, our players, that they are sensitive and can respect what America is when it comes to the flag. And I hope our fans, which I think they will understand, will understand that our players have issues that they need help with. And they need help with the majority of America. They need help. ”
Jones’ tone was quite different two years earlier at training camp, when he said he wouldn’t even allow players to stay in the locker room during the anthem, issuing his memorable “toe on the run” statement. line”.
Soon after, Prescott said he didn’t think kneeling during the anthem was the right time or place for such an event, although the star quarterback said he respected the law. for each player to decide. He keeps the last part and no longer mentions the first.
“That’s what this country is, the freedom to do that, the freedom to speak out,” Prescott said. “As we’ve heard Mr. Jones talk about grace and sharing grace and having grace with the players in whatever they want to do. If I did it my way, that’s exactly what we would do, is expressing ourselves individually but loving and supporting each other collectively.
Dallas was not among the NFL teams that opted out of training after Jacob Blake’s Wisconsin shootout by police led to brief NBA and NHL playoff stoppages. But it sparked another round of conversations that had been going on since training camp began, in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police.
Defensive tackle Dontari Poe, a free agent during the offseason, has reiterated his intention to kneel. While no other Cowboy has said he’ll be joining Poe, there’s been a lot of talk about the team’s unity with everything they do.
Three years ago, Jones convinced the team to kneel together before the anthem but stay up on a Monday night in Arizona. He joined them in the field. Jones seems to understand that kneeling down to the hymn might not be enough this time around.
“I was just saying something, saying that I was going to do something that I thought was good for myself and for others,” Poe said. “Not to say that someone else is wrong for not doing it or whatever their cause, but I just felt like I just wanted to do it for myself and the statement I wanted to make. ”
Offensive lineman Cameron Erving told reporters he had been the target of racial slurs as recently as 2018 and realized years later the racist nature of things that happened to him growing up in rural areas of southern Georgia.
The father of first-year trainer Mike McCarthy worked 38 years as a police and firefighter in Pittsburgh. McCarthy spent over 12 seasons coaching at Green Bay, winning a Super Bowl, so Blake’s shot hit him.
“Things have to change,” McCarthy said. “I grew up in a public security house but I mean I just don’t understand why this continues and I think I’m like everyone else. I don’t have the answers, but things need to change. ”
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McCarthy said conversations between the players and Jones were “ongoing”. It is not known how much Jones was involved in these meetings.
“Frankly, what comes out of those conversations is probably pointing more to the people who are there,” McCarthy said. “It’s not really something I’m going to specifically talk about. It’s an ongoing conversation since we got together there in April and May. ”
Crawford said he agreed with Prescott’s belief that individual expression was the way to go.
“We definitely have the green light on all of this,” Crawford said. “But also just try to find something that is going to boom and not just something that people watch once and kind of just go through. We want to do something that booms and that people remember and actually create a change. ”
Any Dallas player on his knees will be a “boom” because it hasn’t happened yet.