Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said that if one of his players “disrespects” the flag during the national anthem, that player will not play.
“We cannot in the NFL, in any way, give the implication that we are in any way disrespecting the flag,” Jones said.
“We cannot do that. I know the vice president did leave because in his opinion the teams were. We know that there is serious debate in the country about this issue. But there is no question in my mind that with the National Football League, the Dallas Cowboys are going to stand up for the flag. Just so we are clear.”
Vice President Mike Pence left Sunday’s 49ers–Colts game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis after more than 20 San Francisco players knelt during the anthem with their hands over their hearts, as was the case the previous week.
Pence tweeted a statement in which he said he would not dignify any event that disrespects soldiers, the flag or the anthem.
NFL rules do not require players to stand during the anthem, as the league’s game operations manual uses conditional language in describing the guidelines: “During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking.”
NFL players who have demonstrated during the national anthem over the past year have said that they are protesting police brutality and racism — not the flag or the anthem itself.
Prior to Dallas’ Week 3 game at Arizona, Jones joined his players in a show of unity by briefly taking a knee prior to the playing of the anthem. The gesture was in response to President Donald Trump’s comments that NFL owners should fire players who disrespect the flag by not standing during the national anthem.
Jones was one of seven NFL owners who donated to Trump’s inaugural committee.
To this point, no Cowboys player has taken part in any individual demonstration during the anthem.
In the past, Jones said that he liked how the Cowboys handled the national anthem.
ESPN’s Todd Archer contributed to this report.