It’s hard to keep things a secret, in today’s NFL. It’s even harder if you work for Jerry Jones, an owner who likes to be seen in the mix of all things important. Therefore, one assumed it wouldn’t be too long before reports of what was said at the Cowboys’ closed-door anthem discussion came to light. And, as expected, it didn’t take long at all.
According to Todd Archer of ESPN, a source informed him that Jones told his team that the reason he spoke so forcefully about taking away playing time from players who protested, was because he wanted to “play the bad guy and deflect attention form the players.”
In addition, Jones sought to emphasize the business side of the anthem protests by citing falling ratings and sponsorship implications, reminding the players that their decision to protest could hit them in the wallet.
While some will say that Jones’ reference to money proves that his concerns are far more financial than they are patriotic, one must also remember who Jones is speaking to. He’s addressing NFL players, a large percentage of whom would love to continue their anthem protests indefinitely. How is Jones supposed to appeal to the patriotism of people who don’t have any?
Money and the long-term viability of the league, are the only things that Jones and the players truly have in common.
Jones’ claim that he made his comments in order to take heat off the players, also rings true. At least in the sense that Jones sought to draw attention to himself, something he has done often enough in his public life that he could write volumes of “How to Draw Attention to Yourself,” tutorials.
However, given the wild unpopularity of the anthem protests, it’s far more likely, at least in eyes of the fans, that Jones has turned himself into the hero, not the villain.