While Jerry Jones and Acts of Unity are Celebrated, Let’s Not Forget Reason Behind Protests
If you put $10 on Jerry Jones kneeling before kickoff of Monday Night’s Cowboys-Cardinals game, you are unquestionably rolling in cash and plenty of fancy powder blue suits. But your ticket should probably be invalidated because kneeling BEFORE the anthem, while a nice show of unity (and a dream photo op for Jones) sends a misguided message, one Jones has long trumpeted:
Kneeling during the anthem is inappropriate.
Except kneeling in the face of the American flag is where the dirty work is done. Where players have literally sacrificed careers to try and spark a real conversation about societal injustice.
By kneeling at all, Jones and the Cowboys protested Trump’s divisive outburst over the weekend (that is sadly continuing). This is quite powerful in and of itself. However, by doing so before the anthem (and standing during it), the Cowboys implicitly supported the sentiment behind the president’s statements. And where does that potentially leave any members of the Cowboys that felt compelled to kneel or raise a fist but were voted down?
For Jones, an elderly white man of extreme privilege, kneeling certainly sends a message. He loves and respects his players. They are unified. Jones, like Bob Kraft, Eddie DeBartolo and other successful owners, has always considered his players family.
The Cowboys preemptively discussed their plans with the league office, and they are far from the only team to stand with arms locked during the anthem this weekend.
The NFL has glommed onto the unity theme, even airing a lovely UNITY ad during Sunday night and Monday night’s games. But lack of unity in the NFL is far from the problem. People like Michael Bennett getting shoved to the ground and having a Vegas cop scream that ‘he’d blow his f*** head off’ simply because Bennett had the wrong skin color at the wrong time is the issue.
Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid, Bennett, Malcolm Jenkins and others after him took a knee or raised a fist during the anthem because they’re angry about the racial inequality and police brutality in this country and beyond. They are concerned about the racial trends in the country in which their children will grow up. They want to spark a conversation, to inspire people into action. They do it during the anthem for the platform and to showcase their thoughts and fears while the country is being celebrated to promote empathy. They hope people can see the country through their eyes and hearts. The fists, the knees, these actions have force. They jump off the screen. And if you’re a normal thinking person who can accept that the flag can mean different things to different people, they should enlighten.
Players who feel racially oppressed want change so they can look at the American flag and feel like it represents them. This is why they protest during and not before or after the anthem.
Having the president, billionaire owners and swarms of MAGA lovers try to suffocate their right to do so on their terms is exactly the type of suppression that sparked the protests in the first place. Let’s not pivot from the original purpose.