Earlier this month, TFPP reported that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones appeared to be one of the few people with any integrity or backbone left in the National Football League after he declared that any of his players who disrespected the American flag while on the field “will not play. Period.”
Sadly, it appears that period was more like a question mark, or maybe a winking emoji.
The Star-Telegram reports that during Sunday’s game, Cowboys defensive lineman David Irving didn’t kneel during the National Anthem, but he did raise his fist in the air at the end of it — for the second game in a row (though the first since Jones drew his line in the sand). CBS Sports confirms that Irving did indeed intend for the gesture to be taken as a “display of protest against policy brutality and racial injustice.” Yet Irving also maintains “I mean no disrespect at all” to the flag or the anthem, and we’re supposed to believe him because his father and brother, both of whom serve in the Marine Corps, think it’s fine.
Nonsense. If the audience isn’t meant to infer that the protest reflects on the country, then why is during or immediately after the National Anthem the time to do it? As the NFL’s critics have pointed out numerous times, there’s nothing stopping any of these famous, ridiculously-wealthy players from taking out advertisements or going on TV and radio to raise awareness of whatever issue they want, and have plenty of people paying attention to them. And given that none of these guys care about the fans simply wanting politics off the field, there are plenty of times throughout the rest of the game where Irving could raise his fist and know it was caught on camera.
But never mind all of that; Irving’s reasoning is good enough for Jones:
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he never directly discussed the issue with Irving and had no concerns about Irving’s gesture.
“But David can be a very important part of our team going forward,” Jones said after the Cowboys’ 40-10 win. “Ever since he got back off his suspension he has made important plays. We need him out there. I am certainly pleased with any aspect of what he was about today, with his play or anything else.”
What a profile in courage.
The other day, I mentioned Sports Illustrated writer Albert Breer’s theory that Jones’ warning wasn’t so much an expression of a moral standard as it was a warning to the NFL at the business danger of the kneeling alienating fans and customers. It looks like Breer was exactly right, and Jones’ concern was about profit rather than principle.
Breitbart’s Dylan Gwinn points out one of the most remarkable aspects to this fiasco:
[E]ven if their personal politics were wrong, it used to be that the NFL could be reliably counted upon to do the thing which made financial sense. That the true color of the league was green, not black or white. However, the thing which would make the most financial sense in the case of the anthem protests would be to shut them down. Since, as Jerry Jones himself has said, the protests are causing the league to “suffer negative effects.”
Yet even when given the option of hiding behind the almighty dollar, after patriotic principle apparently didn’t offer enough protection, the league still opted to cave and side with the protesters. In that sense, the NFL’s capitulation is a surrender of capitalism, as much as it is patriotism. Which is why no fan can trust the NFL ever again.
What do you think former NFL fans’ next move should be? Share your thoughts below!