ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” host Michael Wilbon compared Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to a slave owner after Jones banned his players from protesting during the National Anthem.
It’s no secret that company owners have a lot of power in determining what their employees are permitted to do on company time. According to Wilbon, that makes them much like slave owners.
“He seems to understand compromise,” Wilbon said, “and he’s saying ‘I need to be with my players and he got down and linked arms and all this stuff ‘and He said ‘I want to honor the anthem.’ And I understand that. It seemed like that was where he was going, but now it just seems like it was a phony as a 3 dollar bill. And the word that comes to mind, and I don’t care who doesn’t like me using it, is plantation.”
Wilbon says that because Jones thinks he has authority over his employees when they’re on the field, he believes players are not his equals.
“The players are here to serve me,” Wilbon continued, putting words in Jones’s mouth, “and they will do what I want. No matter how much I pay them, they are not equal to me.”
We all have bosses who tell us what to do when we’re at work. If we disagree, and the boss overrules us, does that mean company owners think employees are not equal to them?
Of course, players are free to do whatever they want in terms of protest off the field. Jones is simply saying that when players are on the clock, making money, and playing football, he has a right as the owner of the team to place certain restrictions on their behavior. That’s just how it goes in life.
According to Wilbon, that makes Jones a slave owner.
The Philly Inquirer reports:
Wilbon’s ire comes after Jones threatened to bench any player who took a knee or sat during the national anthem. The Cowboys will play the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, and several players are expected to protest.
“If there’s anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play,” Jones told reporters after the Cowboys’ 35-31 Sunday loss to the Green Bay Packers. “We cannot in the NFL in any way give the implication that we tolerate disrespecting the flag.”
ESPN did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Wilbon’s blunt criticism of Jones on racial lines is notable for many reasons, not the least of which is that it is more forceful than the comments his colleague Jemele Hill made on Twitter about Jones that led to her two-week suspension. Hill, the co-host of ESPN’s 6 p.m. SportsCenter (known as SC6), was punished by the network after telling her Twitter followers they should consider boycotting Cowboys advertisers if they wanted to protest Jones’ decision to punish players who kneel during the anthem.
Wilbon’s comparing of Jones to a slave owner takes the debate over player protests to a new level. We know that Jones has recently decided that the protests have gone far enough. He previously knelt beside his players, showing support for their cause.
Jones might have been “phony” for changing his stance, but he might also have come to a simple business-based decision.
He supported raising discussions on race relations and police brutality, and he supported his team. But he decided that kneeling during the National Anthem wasn’t the proper way of accomplishing progress on these matters.
Whatever Jones’ reason for changing his stance, it is his team and he is allowed to set policies for his company. That decision, however, has raised plenty of criticism. Cowboys Hall of Fame inductee Michael Irvin said Jones’ policy is an attack on the First Amendment.
Jones’ position appears to have changed from just a few weeks ago, when he was photographed kneeling beside his players ahead of the team’s Week 3 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals. Wilbon said the apparent shift in his beliefs made Jones look “as phony as a $3 bill.”
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Trump called Jones at least four times before that game, imploring him not not to allow “America’s team” to kneel during the anthem. After Jones’ abrupt shift, Trump praised him on Twitter.
Jones, who was one of several NFL owners to give $1 million to Trump’s inauguration committee, also defended Vice President Pence’s decision to leave an Indianapolis Colts game early (Trump later said he told Pence to leave) after several 49ers players took a knee during the anthem.
Cowboys Hall of Famer Michael Irvin criticized Jones’ decision, noting that the protests aren’t about disrespecting the flag Crackdowns on protesters also create a slippery slope for the league, he said.
“It takes us down a bad road for you to start trying to come in now with rules,” Irvin said on KRLD-FM 105.3 Dallas sports radio. “I don’t know how this league has gotten so far to where you’re not an American by doing the most American thing, which is being able to exercise your First Amendment rights.”
Wilbon is trying to escalate an already controversial situation. Obviously, Jones is no comparison to a slave owner. But Wilbon wants to increase the tension and compare setting the rules as a business owner to slavery.
Let us know what you think of this!
H/T: Fox News Insider