Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones, says that President Trump told him the anthem issue “is a very strong, winning issue” for him, and that he was not going to let it go.
The comments come as the first transcripts from Jones’ testimony in the Kaepernick collusion case become public.
According to the Wall Street Journal’s Andrew Beaton, Trump told Jones, “This is a very winning, strong issue for me. Tell everybody, you can’t win this one. This one lifts me.”
Without confirming or denying the quote, a White House official told Beaton, “The majority of the American people agree with the president, love our country, love our flag and believe it should be respected.”
While the quote from Jerry Jones’ telephone conversation with Trump is news, the fact that the president was a force in the NFL’s decision to alter its anthem policy, is not news.
Last week, several NFL executives told Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer that Trump played a significant role in the decision to change the rule.
While the NFL refuses to comment on whether Trump’s non-stop attacks on the anthem protesters contributed to the rule change, some players think it did.
Baltimore Ravens tight end Benjamin called the rule change a “capitulation” to the President.
“It has been the unfettered venomous attacks from the most powerful office in our republic that has widened the divide, stifled attempts at understanding and in a twist of irony led to the recent capitulation of several NFL owners to move from tepid support to creating a new policy forcing players and personnel present on the sidelines in pregame to stand,” Watson wrote on his Facebook page.
Eagles defensive end Chris Long believes making players stand for the National Anthem isn’t something you do in a free country.
“This is not supposed to be a country, where you are forced to do things you don’t want to do,” Long said. “This is a free country.”
But while it’s a free country, it’s also a country with free-market economy, and while the President might have had some impact on the new rule, economics likely were a bigger factor.
Beaton reports that three owners – Jones, Miami’s Stephen Ross and Houston’s Bob McNair believe the protests were hurting the NFL fiscally.
Indianapolis Colts COO Pete Ward recently admitted that anthem protests hurt their season-ticket renewals.
Now, it’s possible Trump’s constant attacks of the protesting players led some people to watch and attend less games. He could have contributed to some in his base boycotting the NFL, with tweets like this from September, “If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect…. … …our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”
So the new rule could have been driven by lost profits, Trump or both.