Cowboys Owner Says Players Won't Be Allowed to Protest During the Anthem, Blasts Trump for Bringing Issue up Too Often

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said players will not be allowed to stand in the locker room during the anthem, but admitted President Donald Trump brought up the issue far too often for the sake of everyone in the NFL.

Speaking to reporters at the start of training camp on Wednesday, Jerry Jones said Cowboys players have been instructed to be on the field for the national anthem and standing at attention.

The stance, however, clashes with the league's new anthem policy, which states players would have to either stand on the sideline during the national anthem or wait in the locker room.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones stands on the field during warmups before the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at AT&T Stadium on November 23, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. Jones has told his players they will not be allowed to remain in the locker rooms during the national anthem. Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Earlier this month, the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) filed an official grievance over the policy and last week the NFLPA and the NFL released a joint statement indicating they had discussed the issue in recent weeks and were working on a solution.

Last week, the Miami Dolphins also waded into the controversy, indicating they would adopt stronger rules than the NFL's over anthem protests.

According to the Associated Press, the Dolphins circulated a team-discipline document which included a section on "Proper Anthem Conduct" to warn players against protests.

"It classifies anthem protests under a large list of 'conduct detrimental to the club,' all of which could lead to a paid or unpaid suspension, a fine or both," AP reported.

Jones hinted owners across the league did not have a uniform position over the issue, suggesting each team would deal with the protests as they see fit.

"I wouldn't dare speak for any of the other owners, much less in general about 31 other owners," Jones said, as reported by ESPN. "But as far as the Dallas Cowboys are concerned, you know where I stand. Our team knows where I stand on the issue, and that's where we are."

The NFL has been embroiled in political controversy since 2016, when then San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick opted to kneel rather than stand during the national anthem as an act of silent protest against social and racial injustice.

Kaepernick's act drew a mixed response within the sport and outside the NFL's sphere, most notably from President Donald Trump, who urged franchise owners to fire athletes who chose not to stand for the national anthem.

Jones admitted Trump's interest in the issue was "problematic" and his penchant for offering opinions on the controversy was of no help to anyone in the league.

"His interest in what we're doing is problematic, from my chair, and I would say in general the owners' chair," he added. "It's unprecedented, if you really think about it. But like the very game itself, that's the way it is and we'll deal with it.

"We feel strongly about how we deal with it and we'll do so accordingly, but, yes, I, like everybody, would like for it to go away."

Last week, former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz accused kneelers of "hurting the sport."

"What have you accomplished by kneeling for the national anthem, except cause the fan base to go down, the TV viewing audience to go down, the revenue to go down?" he said during an appearance on Fox&Friends Saturday.

"[The players are] hurting the sport, hurting the future, you're hurting the revenue for other [players] coming up."

However, revenue in the NFL actually increased last season. Figures released by ESPN last week showed the league distributed over $8 billion in national revenue in 2017, a 4.9 percent increase from the previous year.

The improved return was attributed to the growing profitability of TV deals, and in particular the increase in value of the league's Thursday Night Football package.

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