Jones had his strongest comments so far on the anthem controversy Sunday night. They started with his response to a question about Vice President Mike Pence leaving the game in Indianapolis after about a dozen San Francisco players knelt during the anthem.
“We know that there is a serious debate in this country about those issues, but there is no question in my mind that the National Football League and the Dallas Cowboys are going to stand up for the flag. So we’re clear.”
Other than that, Dallas players have stood on the sideline, many with hands over their hearts, during the anthem ever since former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started kneeling last season in protest of what he believed were instances of police brutality in the U.S.
“I don’t know about that,” said Jones, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August. “But if there’s anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play. OK? Understand? If we are disrespecting the flag, then we won’t play. Period.”
“There is no room here if it comes between looking non-supportive of our players and of each other or creating the impression that you’re disrespecting the flag, we will be non-supportive of each other,” Jones said. “We will not disrespect the flag.”
The NFL has said the game operations manual distributed to teams includes a reference to players standing for the anthem, but that it’s a policy and not a rule. The league has said it doesn’t plan to punish players over anthem protests.