Cowboys strongly hint that anyone who protests during national anthem will be cut from team

Ten months after President Donald Trump called on NFL owners to cut all protesting players, it appears that the Dallas Cowboys have adopted that rule as their unofficial policy for the national anthem. 

During an interview with a Dallas radio station on Thursday, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones strongly insinuated that any Cowboys player protesting during the national anthem would be released from the team.

First, Jones was asked directly if a player would be punished for staying in the locker room during the national anthem.   

"Yes," Jones told 96.7 FM the Ticket. "There's one way to do it right in our mind and that's to go toes on the line and stand for the anthem. That's not an 'I' or a 'me' thing, this is an organization thing, we feel strongly about it, we don't think it's a controversy, that's just the way we do it."

Jones was then asked if he expected the players to follow the team's rules and not protest during the national anthem. 

"If they want to be a Dallas Cowboy, yes," Jones said. 

Basically, it seems that the Cowboys have decided that a player on the team can protest, but then that player won't be on the team much longer. The policy also seems to be in line with what Trump proposed back in September 2017. 

"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a b--- off the field right now," Trump said. "Out. He's fired. He's fired."

Not surprisingly, Trump is a fan of the Cowboys' apparent new policy, and he let owner Jerry Jones know on Friday. 

The fact that the Cowboys have a policy in place is somewhat surprising, but only because the NFL doesn't have a policy of its own yet. Although the league passed a new national anthem policy at the owners meeting in May, they reversed course on July 20 and decided not to implement the new policy.  

As things stand right now, the league is going to hold several meetings with the NFLPA, and the two sides are going to try and hash out a policy that works for everyone. The first one of those meetings went down on July 27 in New York City. 

One other reason it was surprising to hear Jerry and Stephen Jones talk about the national anthem issue is because the league apparently put a gag order in place at some point over the past week. During an interview on July 24, Bengals owner Mike Brown said that teams had been instructed to "stand down" on the issue of protesting in order to give the NFL time to develop a new policy. 

In the meantime, if there is a gag order in place, the Cowboys are definitely ignoring it. Stephen Jones' comments came one day after his dad, Jerry Jones, also made similar comments about the national anthem. During an interview at Cowboys training camp on Wednesday, Jones said that his team's "policy is that you stand at the anthem, toe on the line."

Stephen Jones said the Cowboys would be more than happy to help the cause of any player as long as that help doesn't involve protesting during the national anthem.  

"We certainly are supportive of them," Stephen Jones said.  "When they have their personal issues or their personal things that they want to pursue and we'll help them pursue them on Tuesdays, but when you're wearing the Dallas Cowboy uniform, and a Dallas Cowboy helmet, and you're working for the Dallas Cowboys, you check the 'I' and the 'me' at the door, and you're a part of a team... We just think there's better ways to do it. We will support our players with resources and their pursuit of social injustice."

The players on the Cowboys' roster all seem to be on the same page when it comes to the national anthem. Multiple players were asked this week if they planned to protest, and they all said no. Everyone from Dak Prescott to Taco Charlton to Sean Lee all said they would be standing. 

"I'd never protest during anthem, and I don't think that's the time or the venue to do so," Prescott said, via Pro Football Talk. 

As for Charlton, he said if his boss says not to protest, then he's not going to protest. 

"He's the boss. That's above my pay grade," Charlton said, via Pro Football Talk. "He said he wanted us to stand up. I don't have a problem with that. I understand where he's coming from."

On Lee's end, the Cowboys linebacker said that change needs to be made, but kneeling during the national anthem probably isn't the right time to push awareness about social injustice. 

"I think I'm going to do what I've always done and stand," Lee said. "Obviously, I believe that there's social injustice that needs to change in this country that's very serious. But I also believe that I'm going to stand for the anthem, because I feel like I'm blessed to be an American, and I'm blessed to have two grandfathers who served."

Although the Cowboys seem to have their national anthem policy figured out, Jerry Jones seems to realize it's not for everyone. The Cowboys owner believes that Trump's interest in the situation is "problematic" and would like to just see the issue go away. 

"We feel strongly about how we deal with it and we'll do so accordingly, but yes, I, like everybody, would like for it to go away," Jerry Jones said Wednesday. 

The only way the issue is going to go away is if the league adopts a policy that makes everyone happy, which doesn't seem possible. Some people want a policy where everyone has to stand, some want a policy where players are allowed to protest and some players -- like Kenny Stills -- don't want a policy at all

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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