Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones has taken a hard line toward players who protested during the national anthem in the past. Jones has said he expected players to have the “toe on the line” and stand during the national anthem.

A lot has changed in the country regarding player protests since George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer in May. Floyd’s death sparked a nationwide protest movement against police brutality and racial injustice. Athletes from nearly every major sport have demonstrated support for social justice.

Jones, 77, has been quiet publicly since the protest movement began. He broke his silence Wednesday, speaking publicly for the first time since April.

With a rapidly changing landscape and mindset regarding race relations in the nation, Jones seems to be reconsidering his hardline stance and indicated he is actively attempting to find a middle ground that is satisfactory to all parties. Instead, he provided little clarification.

“I’m going to show grace, and I’d to show that kind of grace in every sensitive matter that comes up. Everybody’s genuine here. I’m giving here the benefit of the doubt relative to any decision that I make. I have one thing: My job is to run the Dallas Cowboys. My job is to do what’s right,” Jones told reporters Wednesday. “I want to sit down when I have an issue and I have a decision to make, I want to show the world that I can do it with grace and come up with the right solution.”

Jones said he’s had conversations with ex-presidents, likely the current president and others as he seeks counsel and input moving forward. He seems to have backed away from his controversial stance that players who protested during the national anthem was disrespectful to the flag and the military.

“That was then, this is now. … I want our players to understand the perception and where they’re coming from regarding the flag and the sensitivity there and the many memories there,” Jones told reporters Wednesday. “And I want our fans to understand and do better do because of what’s gone on over the last few months and want them to understand where our players are coming from there, and they do not feel like that the ones who . . . kneel, they do not feel like they’re dishonoring the flag.”

Jones said the team will discuss how they will handle the national anthem in 2020. Jones sounds as if he’s ready to soften his previously rigid position regarding the issue.

“I don’t know what we’re going to be faced with here a month from now or two months from now. When it happens, I’m giving you the backdrop of how I’ll make the decision at the time or encourage our players,” Jones told reporters Wednesday. “Our players have always been open ears for anything that I have to offer and I’ve been open-eared with what they have to offer, and that’s what we’ll do.”

— Geoffrey C. Arnold

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