Just when you thought that the President of the United States would start focusing on more important issues than professional athletes exercising their right to protest, the flames get fanned yet again by Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones stating that any Cowboy that protests the anthem will be benched (and 45 was VERY happy about this see his ecstatic tweet here). Jones is using a passage from the Games and Operation Manual which you can see in the following image tweeted by Kevin Seifert of ESPN.
While some are praising Jones for taking a stand for the National Anthem and the American Flag, some are pointing out that the Games Operation Manual has some leeway in terms of language. You will notice that the manual says that “During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention…” As you can see it says should, not must. The passage starts with the National Anthem must be played, but then when it comes to players being on the field and standing at attention is says should. So technically, if the league wanted players to stand at attention for the anthem and respect the flag, they should have said must stand at attention.
The timing of Jones’ comments and this passage surfacing online are interesting, because if this has always been in this manual then why wasn’t it mentioned when Colin Kaepernick started kneeling? Why is this just coming out now that the President of the United States has set his sights on the NFL? Which I would argue that POTUS is holding a grudge from his failed USFL team ownership days, when he tried to take on the NFL with and lost. I also want to point out that while Jones has said that he will bench any player, he probably won’t. Not just because he’s probably scared his players into following his orders, but also because he won’t want to deal with the legal headache that the players union will most definitely launch the moment one single player is benched for exercising their right to protest.
So while I’m hopeful that this will be the last installment in this saga, I know that until either the players stop protesting or people accept that this is happening it won’t stop. And all this hoopla brought on the POTUS is just distracting everyone from the heart of the issue, which is why Kaepernick started kneeling in the first place. Here’s hoping that some change actually begins to take place and that the protesting NFL players actually do help bring about that change.