FRISCO, Texas — Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett has not had any discussions with Jerry Jones regarding the owner and general manager’s comments Sunday that players “disrespecting the flag” would not play.
Two players, defensive ends Damontre Moore and David Irving, raised their fists at the end of the national anthem at Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers. Garrett said he had not heard from any players regarding Jones’ comments, but he spoke with Moore and Irving.
“They did that well after the anthem was completed and it was a private thing they did for themselves,” Garrett said.
Garrett sidestepped a question from a reporter who asked him whether he would have any issues if players express themselves after the anthem.
“Again, we want to approach the anthem in a very respectful way. Want to approach the flag in a very respectful way. And my understanding of what both of those guys did based on the conversations I had with them was that occurred after the anthem. And they wanted to keep it private,” he said.
He said, however, that neither player would be disciplined.
After Sunday’s loss to the Green Bay Packers, Jones was asked about Vice President Mike Pence leaving the Indianapolis Colts’ game after more than 20 members of the San Francisco 49ers knelt during the anthem. Jones said the NFL cannot, “in any way give the implication that we tolerate disrespecting the flag,” and issued a warning to his players if they did use a form of silent protest.
“If there’s anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play,” Jones said. “Understand? We will not … if we are disrespecting the flag, then we will not play. Period.”
Asked whether the Cowboys’ owner’s mandate puts him in an uncomfortable position, Garrett said: “You can ask Mr. Jones those questions.”
Cowboys chief operating officer and director of player personnel Stephen Jones said in an interview with 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Monday that he hasn’t talked to his father about his comments but maintains that his father wasn’t making an order to his players.
“I know this. He’s been very pleased. I think we’ve had great communication with our players in terms of the way to do things in terms of how we can certainly have respect and be sensitive to the things that they’re faced with as we did in Arizona,” he said. “But at the same time, I think they understand and trust Jerry, trust our organization that we also need to pay the proper respect to the flag.
“I think they’ve had a great understanding. Jerry’s never told them to do anything, he’s always asked them to. I know we’ve been very pleased with the way we’ve handled it … our players as a team, as an organization, the way we’ve handled obviously a very difficult situation.”
NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith said in a statement Monday that in meetings last week with team owners, commissioner Roger Goodell and Giants owner John Mara, the chairman of the NFL management council, assured union leaders that they would “respect the Constitutional rights of our members without retribution.” Smith also said that “no player is disrespecting our country or our flag” by protesting during the national anthem.
Before the Cowboys’ Sept. 25 meeting at the Arizona Cardinals, Jones, his sons Stephen and Jerry Jr., and daughter, Charlotte Anderson, took a knee and locked arms with players, coaches and other staff on the field before the national anthem as a compromise to the events that surfaced after President Donald Trump said players should be fired if they protested during the anthem. During the anthem, the players stood locked arm in arm.
In the two games since, the Cowboys have stood during the national anthem.
Leading up to the Arizona game, there were a number of meetings between players, players and coaches and the entire organization. It wasn’t until roughly 20 minutes before kickoff that Jones mentioned the pre-anthem kneel that the players accepted.
Garrett said he was not sure whether he would meet with the players about the subject again but said the “conversations I’ve had with our team have been very positive.”
“Again, I believe our team believes in the approach that we take in regards to the anthem and showing respect for the flag and for the national anthem prior to the game,” Garrett said.