Here's how the teams, executives and staff protested -- or not -- around the league after President Trump's recent comments. Mark Hoffer mhoffer@star-telegram.com
Here's how the teams, executives and staff protested -- or not -- around the league after President Trump's recent comments. Mark Hoffer mhoffer@star-telegram.com

Dallas Cowboys

After anthem display, is it back to business or more protests for Cowboys?

By Clarence E. Hill Jr.

chill@star-telegram.com

September 27, 2017 06:36 PM

UPDATED September 27, 2017 09:16 PM

Two days have passed since the Dallas Cowboys offered the template to the NFL, per owner Jerry Jones, on how to allegedly show unity against racial inequality and respect for the flag.

Jones and his players knelt with arms linked before the national anthem, then rose for the playing of the song in advance of the Cowboys’ 28-17 victory at the Arizona Cardinals.

But now what?

Will they continue to do what they did in a display of unity that has been mostly lauded, or will it be back to business as usual?

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The Cowboys, who host the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, don’t know and haven’t even discussed it yet, according to tight end Jason Witten and quarterback Dak Prescott.

But this is not a situation that can be tied up in a nice, neat little bow with one grand show.

The complicated issues of the right to protest and how to protest have not been settled.

And the fight with President Donald Trump over the soul of the NFL isn’t over, either.

Trump sparked an NFL-wide response over the weekend with a profane attack against the league and players who protested racial injustice by kneeling during the anthem.

He continued his attack on Wednesday, saying the NFL is in “a bad box” and has to change or business is “going to go to hell.”

Trump brought the issue close to home when he tweeted earlier Wednesday that he had spoken with Jones about the issue.

He said: “Jerry is a winner who knows how to get things done. Players will stand for Country!”

Jones is an acknowledged Trump supporter and is fiercely adamant that players should stand for the anthem.

It was also Jones’ idea for the players to kneel before the anthem in a show of unity and equality.

That it was all negotiated after Trump called Jones several times Monday, as reported by NBC5, makes it all the more interesting and calculated.

That all these things are true says everything you need to know about Jones the businessman and consensus builder. It says nothing about the cause the players were initially protesting.

That Jones gave $1 million to Trump’s inaugural festivities doesn’t mean he supports the president’s divisive words and actions following the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., or his attacks on Muslims and Mexicans.

Jones will bring out the receipts when people question him on race, considering his unwavering support of some African-Americans who played for the Cowboys in the face of criticism, including Michael Irvin, Adam “Pacman” Jones, Quincy Carter, Terrell Owens, Greg Hardy and now Ezekiel Elliott.

That he cares deeply for all of his players is unquestioned. And him doing what no owner has done by kneeling with them Monday can’t be underplayed.

Jones considers Prince Bandar bin Sultan of Saudi Arabia, a devout Muslim, a close friend.

His feelings toward the Cowboys’ loyal Hispanic fan base is well chronicled.

Those stances are all good for business, as is the Republican Party to his personal finances.

In the end, that’s part of what Monday’s display was about.

It was good for business that Jones supported his players who were upset at the president’s words and wanted to join their brethren around the league in protest.

It was his genius idea that the entire team take a knee, including himself.

It’s good for business that the Cowboys not alienate a fan base that is upset with the player protests during the anthem.

A little history here.

Before 2009, players were only on the field for the anthem during prime-time games. Since then they have been out there for all games, so this is not a long-standing tradition in the NFL.

Interestingly, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said this to Comcast Sports New England when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started taking a knee for social justice during the anthem last year: “As you know, the NFL has a long tradition of patriotism. Players are encouraged, but not required to stand for the anthem.”

So standing is not required.

But getting back to business, the Department of Defense spent $6.8 million between 2012 and 2015 on what Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake called “paid patriotism” during sporting events, including flag events before NFL games.

So when Trump says the business is going to hell, it’s always been about business for the NFL. The players are just pawns.

Did the Cowboys get played in Jones’ effort to save the game and keep the money flowing, considering that fans are tuning out, burning tickets and canceling their DirecTV NFL Ticket packages?

Or are they committed to the cause of truly making a difference when it comes to racism and social injustice?

You can’t serve two masters.

Now what?

Who earned game balls from the Cowboys-Cardinals game?

The Dallas Cowboys rebounded from a listless defeat in Denver to beat the Arizona Cardinals 28-17 on Monday Night Football.

Clarence Hill: 817-390-7760, @clarencehilljr