Will Cowboys Protest National Anthem and Defy Jerry Jones on Monday Night Football?

Following one of the most politically momentous weekends in NFL history, the eyes of the world are going to be trained on the University of Phoenix Stadium for Monday Night Football.

For the Dallas Cowboys and their owner Jerry Jones, the spotlight could be uncomfortable.

Jones, the 74-year-old oil billionaire, has already voiced his belief this season that NFL players should “respect the flag,” in an interview with radio station 105.3 The Fan in August.

"I just feel so strongly that the act of recognizing the flag is a salute to our country and all of the people that have sacrificed so that we can have the liberties we have," Jones said. "I feel very strongly that everyone should save that moment for the recognition of the flag in a positive way, so I like the way the Cowboys do it." Jones produced a similar sentiment Sunday on Fox Business's 'Mornings with Maria.' "I do not think the place to express yourself in society is as we recognize the American flag and all the people that have made this great country—the very opportunity for us to be there in front of the nation," Jones said. "So that's not the place to do anything but honor the flag and everybody that's given up a little for it." Jones supported Trump's inauguration fund, the Federal Election Commission revealed in April, with a donation of $1 million.

No Cowboys player has yet protested the national anthem, according to the Dallas News. The NFL’s Sunday games were marked by unified player protests, in defiance of President Donald Trump’s call on Friday for the league’s owners to “fire” any player choosing to take a knee during the anthem.

The Pittsburgh Steelers stayed in their locker room at Soldier Field before the loss to the Chicago Bears,. sending out only Alejandro Villanueva, the team's left tackle and Army Ranger vet. At Wembley Stadium in London, the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars knelt for the national anthem and stood for "God Save the Queen."

Jason Garrett, the Cowboys’ head coach, would not be drawn on his players’ likely actions in a press conference on Saturday night. "I just don't think it's in anyone's best interest for me to comment on that," Garrett said when asked if he had an opinion on Trump’s words, as quoted by the Dallas News.

Any gesture by the Cowboys or Cardinals would have extra resonance, echoing the Monday Night Football game between the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams last September that was the scene of Colin Kaepernick’s first regular-season protest. Kaepernick remains unemployed by any NFL team.

The Cardinals, for their part, remain “undecided” over whether they will protest according to Azcentral.com. Villanueva’s was an example of how players’ reactions to the NFL’s burning issue of the moment can be unpredictable. According to ESPN, the Steelers had planned to stay in the locker room as a gesture of unity so he would not stand alone while the anthem played.

That is to say that no one, save the players themselves, knows what is going to happen in Phoenix on Monday night. Given Jones’s stance, though, a mass Cowboys protest in front of a national television audience would surely carry enormous significance.

Join the Discussion