Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will bench any player in his organization who disrespects the flag during the national anthem.
Jones made his strongest statements regarding the national anthem protests throughout the NFL after Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers. Jones is the first NFL owner to go on record about disciplining players for protesting during the anthem.
“If there is anything disrespecting the flag, then we will not play. Period,” Jones said. “We’re going to respect the flag and I’m going to create the perception of it.
The Jerry Jones anthem saga began as a fake internet story claiming the Cowboys owner said he would kick players off the team if they protested during the national anthem.
He had previously made his feelings clear that the flag "should be recognized in a positive way" during the anthem and that he "liked the way the Cowboys do it," but had fallen short of saying he would discipline players.
On Sept. 25, the Cowboys became the first team to kneel as a team prior to the playing of the national anthem and stand arm-in-arm during it. Jones was among the players during the demonstration. Other teams have followed suit with the same display before games in recent weeks.
Protests during the national anthem, which started with Colin Kaepernick in 2016, gained new traction this year when President Trump made his feelings known on the subject, saying those who protest should be fined or suspended.
After the Cowboys' anthem display on Monday Night Football, Trump tweeted, Trump tweeted Wednesday, "Spoke to Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys. ... Jerry is a winner who knows how to get things done. Players will stand for Country!"
Spoke to Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys yesterday. Jerry is a winner who knows how to get things done. Players will stand for Country!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 27, 2017
Jones said a brief phone conversation he had with Trump didn't influence the decision on how to handle the anthem.
On Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence left the game between the Colts and 49ers after more than two dozen 49ers players took a knee during the anthem.