When reporters walked into the Cowboys’ locker room Wednesday afternoon — 30 minutes after it was supposed to open — YG and Nipsey Hussle’s FDT blared from a portable speaker.
The DT stands for Donald Trump. You can probably guess what the F means.
That hardly seemed coincidental given what’s happened the past two weeks.
Three days after Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones said any Cowboys player who did not honor the flag during the national anthem would be benched, the Cowboys’ locker room resembled a ghost town.
And it’s not because this a bye week.
Jerry met with the players Wednesday after practice, addressing the team for about 20 minutes, according to two sources.
Multiple sources said he spoke matter-of-factly about why he wants to avoid any perception that the players on the Cowboys aren’t honoring the flag during the national anthem. The sources said Jerry addressed the potential of anthem protests affecting the business of the Dallas Cowboys either through poor TV ratings or the potential loss of advertising partners.
The sources said Jerry also made a point to let the players know he supported their continuing quest for social equality, but he also expected them to continue standing when the national anthem is played before games.
One player referred to his comments as, “Fraudulent.”
Dak Prescott, Orlando Scandrick and kicker Dan Bailey were the only captains to appear in the Cowboys’ locker room. Prescott declined to comment.
Scandrick issued at least six no comments, but did say he planned to enjoy the bye week.
The other captains — Jason Witten, Tyrone Crawford and Sean Lee — did not make a locker room appearance. Make of that what you will.
No one should be surprised the most recognizable players on this team opted for silence. Jerry is the NFL’s most powerful owner and it takes a player with a certain stature in the league to go against him.
Think Philadelphia’s Malcolm Jenkins or Seattle’s Doug Baldwin, Michael Bennett or Richard Sherman or even Green Bay’s Martellus Bennett.
Every NFL player doesn’t fear getting cut. Some players’ ideals and principles aren't for sale because they’ve prepared properly for life after football.
Still, on a roster full of star players, it’s unfair to turn youngsters such as Jourdan Lewis and David Irving into team spokesmen just because they happen to be in the locker room.
The whole point of captains is to have them speak for the team and lend perspective to a situation. Bailey, the Cowboys union rep, reluctantly answered a few questions after some prodding.
“My first responsibility is to listen,” Bailey said of players who have complaints or questions about being forced to stand for the anthem. “I relay that information to the people that I talk to. In that form, I’m more of a middle man.”
Bailey did say he’s participated in several conference calls during the past two weeks as the president has made ending the NFL anthem protests one of his top priorities.
“We’ve had multiple conference calls,” Bailey said. “They’ve been ongoing. We’re handling this as it unfolds.”
Two days after Trump referred to NFL players with an expletive and called for NFL owners to fire players who kneeled, Jerry stood arm-and-arm with his players on Sept. 25 before their game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Jerry, along with the coaching staff and his sons, Stephen and Jerry Jr., took a knee before the anthem. Then they stood with their arms linked during the anthem.
The Cowboys have stood on the sideline during the anthem for the last two games. At the end of Sunday’s anthem, Irving and Damontre Moore raised their fists.
When asked Monday if they would be disciplined, coach Jason Garrett said, “Absolutely not.”
When NFL owners meet in New York next week, they will likely change the language in the operations manual that will compel players to stand during the anthem.
If it happens, there’s no telling what music will be playing in the locker room the next day.