The comments from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, that his players better stand for the national anthem or risk being benched, are still reverberating. Now the NAACP is charging that the NFL owner would be violating his players’ civil rights by forcing them to stand.
“Jerry Jones’ comments are more than tone-deaf, more than misinformed and misguided – they are a public commitment by an NFL owner to violate his players’ Constitutional right to free speech,” said Tony Covington, the NAACP’s senior director of corporate affairs and a former NFL player, according to The Hill newspaper.
NAACP interim President and CEO Derrick Johnson agreed, adding, “This is not an issue about our flag, this is an issue about police brutality, (racism, and the ability of members of the NFL whose communities are disproportionately impacted by police misconduct to peacefully say enough.”
The civil rights group’s condemnation was spurred by the NFL owner’s comments last weekend.
“If there’s anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play. OK? Understand? If we are disrespecting the flag, then we won’t play. Period. Period,” Jones told the Dallas Morning News on Sunday.
Almost immediately, the players union released a statement insisting that anthem protests are “conscientious” and “respectful” and said that they would not stand for their members’ rights being violated.
NFL players are union members and part of the labor movement that has woven the fabric of America for generations. Our full statement: pic.twitter.com/FMOXvz3G7h
— NFLPA (@NFLPA) October 9, 2017
By Tuesday afternoon, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had issued a statement reiterating that players are not required to stand for the anthem but that the league has scheduled a meeting to discuss the issue.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.