The NAACP issued a statement Tuesday criticizing Dallas Cowboys owner and team president Jerry Jones after he announced that his team will not play if they don’t stand for the national anthem.
Tony Covington, a former NFL player who now serves as the NAACP’s senior director of corporate affairs, said Jones’ comments were misguided and violated players constitutional rights.
“Jerry Jones’ comments are more than tone-deaf, more than misinformed and misguided — they are a public commitment by an NFL owner to violate his players’ Constitutional right to free speech,” Covington said, according to the Washington Examiner.
NAACP interim president and CEO c Johnson added in the statement that protesting isn’t about the flag, but rather about social injustices minorities experience in America.
“This is not an issue about our flag, this is an issue about police brutality, racism, and the ability of members of the NFL whose communities are disproportionately impacted by police misconduct to peacefully say enough,” Johnson said.
The entire Cowboys team, including owner Jerry Jones and his family, decided to take a knee before the national anthem during their Sept. 25 game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Then, they walked back to the sideline and stood with their arms locked together while the anthem was sung.
Jones announced his new policy on Sunday after he was asked about Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence leaving the Indianapolis Colts game after several San Francisco 49ers players knelt during the anthem.
“I know this, we cannot … in the NFL in any way give the implication that we tolerate disrespecting the flag,” Jones said after a loss to the Green Bay Packers, Fox News reported.
“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,” he added.
Jones made it clear that he would bench any of his players if they carried out actions appearing to disrespect the national anthem and flag.
“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.
He continued, “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.”
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