Donald Trump

President Trump’s Tweet Puts Jerry Jones in Uncomfortable Position

The president blew up his phone Monday, calling him four times throughout the day in an effort to determine what the team would do for the national anthem, according to two sources.

This volatile NFL conversation about whether players should stand or kneel for the national anthem can wreck a locker room and destroy a team.

Look no further than Pittsburgh, where the Steelers had decided as a team to all stay in the tunnel until after the anthem but offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva, a former Army Ranger, said he accidentally wound up on the field, where he stood with his hand over his heart as the anthem played.

Or Carolina, where quarterback Cam Newton and five other captains met with owner Jerry Richardson because some players weren't sure of repercussions if they protested during the national anthem.

There's a reason folks generally don't talk politics or religion at work.

Then again, it's hard not to discuss this subject when the president referred to NFL players who kneel with an expletive last week, while suggesting owners fire players who protested.

The league's African-American players want to know where their white teammates, coaches and team owners stand on this topic because silence can be misconstrued as compliance.

That's why you saw Washington owner Daniel Snyder and Jacksonville owner Shad Kahn, who reportedly each donated at least $1 million to President Donald Trump's campaign, as well as Jones locking arms with their players on the field.

Jones, though, was the only one who took a knee alongside his players, doing so before the national anthem in Monday night's 28-17 win over Arizona.

Jones thought he had avoided all of the drama and consternation associated with this delicate issue when he worked out a compromise between the players, some of whom wanted to kneel in protest of Trump's harsh words directed toward them.

The president blew up Jones's phone, calling him four times throughout the day in an effort to determine what the team would do for the national anthem, according to two sources.

Less than 30 minutes before kickoff, Jones persuaded the players to trust him and his plan: They'd lock arms and kneel before the anthem, then stand — arms still locked — while the national anthem played, a source said.

It appeared to be the perfect compromise.

Jones was so proud of his solution that he proclaimed it might even be used as a template for how to handle the situation league-wide.

Then his friend, the president, tweeted this at 6:09 a.m. CT Wednesday:

"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!"

Uh oh.

Now, if you're on the Cowboys' roster, you have to wonder if you were just a pawn in yet another one of the president's political battles. It's fair for some players to wonder if Jones conned them, tricking them into appearing to be subservient, when they were actually trying to make a statement about unity and equality.

It should surprise no one that most players in the Cowboys' locker room on Wednesday didn't want to spend too much time discussing the president's tweet.

"That's between them, I guess," Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott told reporters, when asked about Trump's tweet. "I'm not here to judge what the president said. I mean, he's free to speak just like the rest of us are. He's going to say whatever he wants. We've all figured that out.

"For me, it's just about doing the best I can to help this team and show unity about what we're trying to accomplish in this country."

No one questions Jones's relationship with the African-American players on the Cowboys. His unwavering support for numerous African-American players ranging from Michael Irvin, Emmitt Smith, Charles Haley and Darren Woodson, who are each in the Ring of Honor, to troubled players such as Quincy Carter, Randy Gregory, Adam Jones and Josh Brent puts his motives beyond reproach.

Ultimately, Jones is interested in making money — and he wants nothing to do with anyone or anything that negatively affects that.

Understand, Jones is a marketing genius. He told us he didn't want to lose fans — and the money they spend on everything from tickets to merchandise — because fans perceive kneeling during the anthem as a slight to our flag.

It's sad that a protest that began as quarterback Colin Kaepernick's stand against police brutality and racial equality has somehow been twisted into a lack of respect for our flag, but that's what enough folks with their own agenda have done.

If only, the president's motives in publicizing his conversation with Jerry was as clear as the owner's motive for finding a compromise.

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