Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is finally learning to say something nice or not saying anything at all when it comes to players protesting.
Jones appeared in a radio interview on Tuesday and expressed a different tone than he has in the past.
In 2017, Jones said any players who knelt in protest of racial injustice during the national anthem would have to sit out of games, ESPN reports. But he sang a different tune on Sunday when Cowboys' defensive tackle Dontari Poe, who decided to kneel during the national anthem.
“I thought our players, I thought they gave it sensitivity,” Jones told 105.3 The Fan in Dallas. “They showed respect to Poe’s decision. I think they certainly did show a sensitivity to our fans as a team. All in all, I thought our team was very real and very genuine in the way it approached it.”
Poe, who was the only Cowboys player to protest on Sunday, announced his plans during training camp. The defensive tackle made true on his word when he took a a knee while two of his teammates stood next to him with their hands on his shoulder.
Poe said his teammates were telling him not to kneel by himself, but they still supported him over the weekend.
“My teammates were telling me that they didn’t want me to do it by myself, alone, because we’re a team. But I had told them my mind was already made up and I felt this way," he told the Fort Worth Star Telegram. "I appreciate my guys for sticking with me, for being behind me.”
"We just had two days of conversation with our owners," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in 2017. "Our clubs all see this the same way. We all want our players to stand.”
However, the league has been more outspoken in recent months amid nationwide protests which followed the killing of George Floyd.
“I wish we had listened earlier, Kaep, to what you were kneeling about and what you were trying to bring attention to," Goodell said, according to Sports Illustrated. "We had invited him in several times to have the conversation, to have the dialogue. I wish we had the benefit of that, we never did. We would have benefited from that, absolutely.”
Poe, who is in his first year with the Cowboys, said the protests are bringing more awareness to "what’s going on in this world — to the racial injustices that’s going on, to the oppression that’s happening to my race."
"We might not see change in my lifetime. I do want to start it by doing the simple things, such as kneeling to let people know that I feel this way," he said. "I feel hurt with what’s going on. I feel like everyone needs to be accountable. The police need to be held accountable. And the world needs to hold them accountable.”
NFL veterans Damontre Moore and David Irving defied Jones' stance in 2017 when they raised their fist after the national anthem, as Blavity previously reported. Moore was cut from the team soon after the protest.
But the team said the cut wasn't related to the protest.
“We had to make a roster move and we just felt like the best decision for our team was to release Damontre Moore,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said.