Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who had previously expressed tepid support for his protesting players, recently reversed course and declared his intention to bench any of his players who refused to stand for the national anthem.
This move thankfully did not go unnoticed. The NAACP made a scathing statement condemning Jones’ words and pledging their continued support for players expressing their First Amendment rights.
Stated NAACP interim President and CEO Derrick Johnson in response to Jones, “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. This is not simply a Black issue due to the number of white people also killed by police, but we know historically that when justice occurs for African Americans, all other members of our society benefit as well.” The press release also pointed out the fact that African-Americans make up almost a quarter of all Americans killed by police, despite only representing 13 percent of our country’s population.
Added Tony Covington, Senior Director of Corporate Affairs at the NAACP and also a former NFL player, “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 – one of the principles on which our nation was founded. They are proof that athletes like Colin Kaepernick who have quietly and peacefully used their platform to protest violence against communities of color do so at their own peril.” The press release added, “Following Vice President Pence’s decision to walk out of a game in which players chose not to stand during the national anthem – at President Trump’s insistence – the NAACP believes that the NFL has an obligation to take a strong stance on behalf of its athletes and their rights. We have asked to meet with Commissioner Goodell in order to determine how he can best protect his players. We hope that he will work with us and the Players’ Association to forge this critical path forward.” Are you glad the NAACP put out such a bold statement in support of the protesting players?