Coach Jason Garrett said Thursday the Cowboys came out of their meeting with Jerry Jones with a clear understanding of the position the owner has taken regarding the national anthem.
He characterized the discussions Wednesday as productive and based on love, admiration and respect for the players.
“I think just in light of the position that he established early on in the week, he felt like it was important to communicate what that position was to our players and why he believes so strongly in that,” Garrett said. “He just felt like it was important for him to come in at the end of one of our team meetings and share his position on the anthem with our team very directly.
“I think that demonstrates the respect that he has for our guys and the love and admiration he has for our guys. I think he also wanted to share different ways to make an impact on some of the issues that the players have concerns about. So it was a productive meeting. I know there were some conversations he had individually with the players afterward that were also productive.”
But Jones didn’t back down on his mandate that the players stand and respect the anthem before games or face discipline. If they instead raise their fist or kneel in silent protest against police brutality and social injustice, they could be benched, Jones said.
Quarterback Dak Prescott termed the initial adverse reaction among the players as “miscommunication.” He said everything has been ironed out and that the Cowboys are ready to put the unrest behind them.
Garrett said the Cowboys came out of the meeting with a clear understanding of the position Jones has taken. He characterized the discussions as productive and based on love, admiration and respect for the players.
Jones offered suggestions on how players could address issues important to them in the community and made it clear he would help them as much as he could, Garrett said.
But he didn’t want them protesting during the anthem and showing disrespect to the flag.
“Again, it was more about stating his position and the reasons for his position and also about providing some different ways to make an impact because he’s very sensitive to some of the issues, as we all are, that the players are talking about,” Garrett said. “And again we all want to make an impact and he’s someone that can help the players do that. And he wanted to make sure they knew that.”
Garrett said the Cowboys will continue to stand for the anthem just like they always have and he doesn’t think defensive ends Damontre Moore or David Irving will raise their fist at the end of the anthem as they did before last Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers.
“I had a conversation with both Damontre and David the other day after the ballgame and we had a good discussion,” Garrett said. ‘I’d like to keep those conversations private. But I think everybody understands the position that our owner has taken.”
As much as the Cowboys want to get back to focusing on football, Garrett this week’s bye was a good time to have these discussions. And as much he wants the Cowboys focused, he also understands that the players have their minds on other important issues.
“When we come into this building we want to make sure that we’re focused on football and what we can do to the best football team we can be and have the most impact on the field, obviously,” Garrett said. “But again there are times, particularly on a bye week, where you can have some discussions about this, so hopefully you can get back to football as quickly as you can while addressing this issue the way it needs to be addressed.”
Center Travis Frederick said it was good for the team to talk things out so they could move forward and focus on football.
“I guess the best thing that’s come out of this and something that maybe everybody can see is that there has been conversations in the locker room between guys and their viewpoints and very open dialogue,” Frederick said.
“You guys know this, it’s hard to portray this to the outside world and everybody else, but you don’t see differences between people. We’re all just here trying to do a job, so you don’t get people battling back and forth.
“You get intelligent conversation and people respecting their opinion because of all the sacrifices we’ve done together. It’s interesting to hear some of those conversations and it really has opened some dialogue so I guess that’s a good thing. Maybe this will help open dialogue with everybody throughout the United States.”