Even though the NFL and its players’ union agreed this month to negotiate a better national anthem policy and not enforce the wholly unappealing one introduced in May, the Dallas Cowboys are going their own way. Team owner Jerry Jones said this week that he expects all his players to stand for the anthem, and his son, CEO Stephen Jones, openly threatened their jobs if they didn’t follow orders.
Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, who has been one of the NFL’s most outspoken players on racial and social issues, was asked today about Jones’s remarks, and he called the Cowboys owner a “bully.”
“Lucky for me, I don’t play for the Cowboys, nor do I want to,” Jenkins said. “I think it’s unfortunate that you have owners like him that use his position to intimidate and intentionally thwart even the idea of his players thinking individually, or having a voice about issues that affect their communities daily.”
Jenkins criticized the actions of the owners who haven’t spoken up against Jones, including his own team’s, Jeffrey Lurie. That means the NFL’s shadow commissioner gets to flex his power and take over the narrative without resistance, which means he gets play on Fox News, and in turn receives praise from the wet, dumpy president. Jones also wants to make his players feel powerless so the team can continue to quietly not win the NFC East. (They’re not powerless. Jerry Jones’s drunk ass isn’t going to throw for a touchdown, and there aren’t many players out there who can do that.)
The union should take notice, too. As the NFLPA figures out its strategy for negotiating—an easy fix would be to just stop playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” before games—the union should keep in mind how the league’s ownership is allowing this to unfold: Let the loudest, dumbest guy take the attention and hope it goes away from the rest of them. That hasn’t worked so far for the owners; let’s see how it works for the GOP in the midterm elections.