Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on Tuesday repeated his position that players on his team wouldn’t play if they disrespected the U.S. flag during the playing of the national anthem.
Meanwhile, a labor union representing workers in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas has filed a charge against the Cowboys owner. The National Labor Relations Board claims that his threats against players violate labor law.
The charge was filed by Local 100 of the united labor unions with the Fort Worth office of the National Labor Relations Board.
Wade Rathke, the chief organizer for Local 100 wrote “Jones through his efforts to bully his playing workforce is attempting to unilaterally establish a previously nonexistent condition of work,” thus violating the National Labor Relations Act.
Jones reiterated his position during his weekly radio show on 105.3 The Fan (KRLD-FM) on Tuesday morning and said it’s in the franchise’s best interest not to be involved in the debate over patriotism and social causes.
"If you do not honor and stand for the flag in the way that a lot of our fans feel that you should, if that's not the case, then you won't play,” Jones said. “That's nothing new as far as that being my wish or the way I want the Cowboys.”
Jones pushed back when asked if his comments were towing the line for President Donald Trump, who ignited the protests two weeks ago when he attacked NFL players who had kneeled during the anthem.
On Monday night, Trump also tweeted his support for Jones: "A big salute to Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, who will BENCH players who disrespect our Flag," the president tweeted. "`Stand for Anthem or sit for game!"'
Jones said he’s “a friend” of Trump, but that they disagree on many things.
"I'm really in practice apolitical. But I really can't afford to be when it comes to the Dallas Cowboys and my No. 1 job,” Jones said. “We're addressing the issue in part because he's been very active in the issue. In part, that stirred it up. And because it is stirred up is one of the reasons I've drawn a bright line.”
The current game manual says players "should" stand for the national anthem, but it is seen as a guideline that is left to the discretion of players.
But the “guidelines” may be changing soon. NFL owners are set to meet next week in New York, and a league spokesman says the anthem policy will be "front and center on the agenda."
Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote owners a memo, which was posted on the NFL’s website, stating that the issue is dividing the league from fans.
He wrote, “We need to move past this controversy, and we want to do that together with our players."
The kneeling movement was started by former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick last season. It had mostly subsided. Then, President Trump told a rally in Alabama last month that owners should get rid of players who kneel during the anthem.
The president has twice in the last two weeks publically complimented Jerry Jones for the Cowboys approach to the anthem.
Jones said he wants to get the Cowboys out of the national debate, and that his threat of being benched is his way of trying to do so.
"This is a workplace issue. I don't want there to be any misunderstanding as to where I want the personnel of the Cowboys to be when we're at the No. 1 workplace we have, which is the field and the sideline on game day,” Jones said.
According to Jones, the Cowboys should be a break from the news.
"We're trying to get peoples' minds away from the troubled times," Jones said. "We're trying to take them away from all the other parts of the newspaper.”
The 74-year-old Jones, also the team's general manager, said after a loss to Green Bay on Sunday that the NFL cannot leave the impression that it tolerates players disrespecting the flag and said any Cowboys doing so will not play.
The NFL players' union had a swift rebuke Monday. Executive director DeMaurice Smith said Jones contradicted assurances last week from Commissioner Roger Goodell and New York Giants President John Mara that players could express themselves without reprisals.