Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy held court with the media Friday and spoke to a smattering of topics, including the team’s National Anthem stance.
With the NFL expected to see a rise in demonstrations, having encouraged players to protest for justice across the country, McCarthy admitted there’s not yet a universal Cowboys policy for the 2020 season.
“These are conversations that we’ll continue to have,” he said, via the club’s official website. “It is Aug. 7 and in fairness to us this is the first time we have been in the building together. All those things will be talked about. My particular stance is it’s a time to step back and listen and make sure we are in the right place.”
Dallas players, new and old, understand that protesting amid the Star-Spangled Banner is frowned upon, an act prohibited by owner/general manager Jerry Jones. Example: when defensive end Michael Bennett arrived last year, Jones implicitly warned him to get on board with “how we do it here.”
Bennett, now a free agent, stood for his nine games in the silver and blue.
Jones considers kneeling, popularized by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, disrespectful to the American flag. Save for his 2017 demonstration, in which Jones took a knee and interlocked arms with his squad, he’s rarely involved for such initiatives.
But the death of George Floyd, a black man killed by Minneapolis law enforcement in May, set the organization on an uncharted course, faced with the distinct possibility that its players, such as new nose tackle Dontari Poe, are “definitely leaning toward” kneeling.
“If you don’t understand it, then you just don’t want to know it,” Poe said, referencing police brutality.
On June 5, the Cowboys released a video titled “Protest to Progress,” which addressed the importance of conversations about social injustice. More than two months later, McCarthy acknowledged, the conversations remain ongoing — inwardly and outwardly.
”I know for me personally, it’s made me take a hard look at the blind spots that I may have in my life from my experiences,” he said. “One thing I do know, and we continue to echo to everybody involved in football operations, is to take a step back. I think we all need to listen more. How can we really be part of the progress? I think the organization’s statement of protest through progress is right on the money. So that’s really where our focus will be. We’ll definitely support players any way we can.”
Jerry’s Silence Defeaning
The Cowboys’ czar has yet to comment on Floyd’s murder and did not appear in the aforementioned video condemning racism. Poe echoed fellow newcomer to the Dallas defensive line, Gerald McCoy, who opined in June that Jones needs to break his silence sooner than later.
“His silence definitely means a lot because in any other situation [he] will have something to say about most things,” Poe told Bleacher Report last month. “I was once a proponent of doing stuff behind closed doors, and doing what I need to do not out in the forefront. … So hopefully he is doing that, but who knows what he is doing. … Personally, I would hope that he comes out and says, ‘OK, I am willing to help, I am willing to fight, and I am willing to be with y’all.’”
Poe knelt during the Anthem in 2017 as a member of the Atlanta Falcons. He signed a two-year, $9 million contract with the Cowboys in March, following a stint in Carolina, where he overlapped with McCoy.