The San Francisco 49ers have found themselves at the center of a debate that is spreading across the NFL. Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit and then kneel during the National Anthem has resulted in a steady increase of players taking part in similar demonstrations. Whether it be players taking a knee, raising a fist in the air, or inter-locking arms, the discussion of social injustice has started to expand around the NFL.
Jed York offer clear support for Colin Kaepernick both with his words, and his actions. Prior to this past weekend, we had not heard a whole lot of much from NFL owners. However, after Sunday saw several teams have players offer up a demonstration, I have seen comments from at least two owners that are worth noting (transcripts below).
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones spoke on Monday saying he was proud of his team for not taking part in the demonstration. He talked about the organization’s strong support of the flag, and the platform of the league.
On Sunday, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross spoke after four Dolphins players took a knee during the National Anthem. Ross offered clear support for his players. He talked about the need to develop an important conversation in this country.
Coaches are a little more on the front lines with the players deciding whether or not to protest, so I am not surprised we have heard more from coaches than owners. However, now that we have three owners on the record about the protest, I’m curious how many more will have to address the topic. The Commissioner offered a fairly milquetoast statement on the matter.
We’ve seen statements from teams following these protests, but not nearly as much from the more visible owners. This topic is not going away anytime soon, so at some point more of these owners will have to address it in some form or fashion. For now, here is what two of them said:
Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys owner (More here)
“I got to give a big pat on the back to our entire team, our coaching staff, our entire organization ... We strongly, strongly support the flag in every way we support -- and it’s almost ridiculous to be saying it -- the people who for generations and generations have given it all up so that we can get out here and show off in front of millions of people on television.
"We respect that so much. That’s the real business. The forum of the NFL and the forum on television is a very significant thing. I’m for it being used in every way we can to support the great, great contributors in our society ... And for anybody to use parts of that visibility to do otherwise is really disappointing.”
Stephen Ross, Miami Dolphins owner (Audio here)
Opening: “I don't think it was any lack of respect. Certainly, I think, everyone here, our team, our whole organization respects the flag and what it stands for, and with the soldiers, and everything. But I think, these guys are really making a conversation of something that's a very important topic in this country, and I'm 100 percent supportive of them. It’s a country where you’re really allowed to indicate what your preferences are, and how your feelings are, and that’s what makes us so great. And I think it’s great, and I applaud them for what they’re doing.”
On it being 9/11 if that creates problems: “Yea, sure there’s discomfort, if I thought anything was meant to be anything like that. And today, there’s a national conversation, and it’s taking something like this to create a conversation that’s so important. I certainly have been very supportive of that, probably as much as anybody. And I respect it, and I encourage it.”
On what he would say to ticket holders not happy with it: “I don’t think there’s anybody in the organization, all the players included, that want to show any disrespect for this country, for the flag, for the soldiers, for anything else. I think they all know, as an organization, we’re totally, 100 percent behind them. I think today, what has been brought up is a conversation that needs to be had. And I think they’re doing it in their way, and I applaud them, and that’s what it’s all about.”