Jerry Jones

The NFL has clearly lost control of its world

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AP

The NFL has clearly lost control of its world

The Oakland Raiders are 2-3. The San Francisco 49ers are 0-5. J.J. Watt and Odell Beckham are hurt. Los Angeles hates football – still.

Fortunately, you don’t have to care about that. The NFL never stops entertaining you with more and more stares into the abyss.

The Vice President of the United States, such as he is, spent government money to make a disdainful and fraudulent show about players at the San Francisco-Indianapolis game, and then put out a three-year-old tweet to back his appearance.

Reports from several cities indicate that owners have essentially threatened their players to no longer kneel for the anthem, though in true ownership fashion didn’t say what would happen to those who disobeyed. Except of course Jerry Jones, who can’t keep his mouth shut for a living.

And now a Nevada model has released video of Miami Dolphins offensive line coach Chris Foerster doing lines of cocaine, resulting in his resignation. The model, Kijuana Nige, a.k.a. Starr Sherrod, has said she will do more as a reaction to players being punished by the league. “This s--- easy for me,” she said.

Now that’s the sport we know and love.

How the NFL lost control of its world is worth a book or two, but it has clearly happened. Every fresh story is a new tire fire, and the league doesn’t have enough fingers and toes to plug all the holes. Not even actual football is distracting enough.

But there we go with real life again. These are bizarre times in America, and the most popular sport is now a magnet for the weird. It is an unintended consequence of the famous Mark Cuban quote about pigs getting fed and hogs getting slaughtered.

But the hog is a thousand feet high and miles wide, so it can take on lots more weird. Knowing as we do our new fascination with shameless opportunism (right, Mikey?), the league is going to have to do just that.

Jerry Jones: Cowboys will bench players who are 'disrespecting the flag'

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AP

Jerry Jones: Cowboys will bench players who are 'disrespecting the flag'

ARLINGTON, Texas — Dallas owner Jerry Jones said the NFL can't leave the impression that it tolerates players disrespecting the flag and that any of his Cowboys making such displays won't play.

Jones had his strongest comments so far on the anthem controversy Sunday night. They started with his response to a question about Vice President Mike Pence leaving the game in Indianapolis after about a dozen San Francisco players knelt during the anthem.

"I know this, we cannot ... in the NFL in any way give the implication that we tolerate disrespecting the flag," Jones, also the team's general manager, said after a 35-31 loss to Green Bay.

"We know that there is a serious debate in this country about those issues, but there is no question in my mind that the National Football League and the Dallas Cowboys are going to stand up for the flag. So we're clear."

The Cowboys knelt arm-in-arm before the national anthem when they played at Arizona two weeks ago, days after President Donald Trump criticized NFL players for anthem protests.

Dallas players, coaches and others, including Jones and his family, were among those in the line in Arizona. All of them stood during the anthem, with arms still locked.

Other than that, Dallas players have stood on the sideline, many with hands over their hearts, during the anthem ever since former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started kneeling last season in protest of what he believed were instances of police brutality in the U.S.

Jones said he wasn't aware of whether any of his players had raised a fist at the end of the anthem before the Green Bay game.

"I don't know about that," said Jones, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August. "But if there's anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play. OK? Understand? If we are disrespecting the flag, then we won't play. Period."

Jones said showing respect for the flag and the anthem is more important to him than any potential issues of team unity.

"There is no room here if it comes between looking non-supportive of our players and of each other or creating the impression that you're disrespecting the flag, we will be non-supportive of each other," Jones said. "We will not disrespect the flag."

Jones said a phone conversation with Trump after the display in Arizona included Trump telling him there was a rule on the books.

The NFL has said the game operations manual distributed to teams includes a reference to players standing for the anthem, but that it's a policy and not a rule. The league has said it doesn't plan to punish players over anthem protests.

"The league in mind should absolutely take the rules we've got on the books and make sure that we do not give the perception that we're disrespecting the flag," Jones said.

Jerry Jones, Cowboys kneel before anthem, stand arm-in-arm during

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AP

Jerry Jones, Cowboys kneel before anthem, stand arm-in-arm during

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has been a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, so the speculation was that he would not allow his players to kneel during the national anthem.

The Cowboys and their owner did kneel, though not during the anthem.

Following a weekend of kneeling and protesting across the NFL, the Cowboys and their owner displayed their own version of unity Monday night, kneeling on the field before rising as a group prior to the playing of the national anthem.

"I hope that I'm clear and I hope that our team is clear: We want to respect the flag. Make no mistake about that," Jones said.

"Nothing that we've done, nothing that we did tonight says anything other than that. We also want to as a complete team, as players and an organization, be able to, whenever we can, demonstrate that unity is important and equality is important.

"That's what I'm so proud of these guys for, they did both and did it in a way when people really stop and think about it, makes a lot of sense."

The Cowboys sat and watched the protests across the NFL on Sunday and spent most of Monday discussing the best way to show unity without denigrating the flag.

After warmups Monday night, they went into the locker room and returned to the field for the anthem, lining up between the sideline and the yard markers on the field.

Arm-in-arm, they dropped to a knee as a giant flag was carried onto the field, with Jones and his family in the middle near the 50-yard line.

Numerous boos rang out across University of Phoenix Stadium as the Cowboys kneeled and continued as the players rose, still arm-in-arm, and stepped back to the sideline as the flag was unfurled across the field. They remained connected as Jordin Sparks sang the national anthem.

"The objectives, as much as anything else, was to somehow, some way demonstrate unity and demonstrate equality, and do so without any way involving the American flag and the national anthem," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said.

The Arizona Cardinals had their own symbol of unity after a weekend of protests in the NFL, gathering along the goal line arm-in-arm during the national anthem. They were joined by owner Michael Bidwell, his family and general manager Steve Keim.

More than 200 NFL players kneeled, sat or prayed during the national anthem on Sunday after President Trump said any player who does not stand for the national anthem should be fired.

Three teams did not take the field for the national anthem and numerous NFL owners came out against Trump's statements.