David Irving appears to refute reports that he will test Jerry Jones' anthem policy

Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman David Irving is apparently not getting ready to test Jerry Jones' national anthem policy. Irving was quoted by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram saying "I have made a call. You'll just have to wait till Sunday," in an apparent reference to a demonstration of some sort before, during, or after the national anthem. 

However, on Saturday afternoon, Irving tweeted something that made it seem as though his words may have been misconstrued (including here): 

Irving's agent also issued the following statement on the matter, appearing to reference the prior title of this post: 

While we don't know what his future plans may hold, Irving raised his fist in a display of protest against policy brutality and racial injustice after the national anthem was played prior to the Cowboys' Week 5 game. He said he received favorable feedback from fans, despite the fact that many Cowboys fans appear to be against demonstrations or protests before, during, or after the national anthem.

"I've had way more support," Irving said, per the Star-Telegram. "I'm not disrespecting the flag. I really haven't gotten anything negative. It's all positive."

That could change if he decides to demonstrate in some way in the future, because ahead of the Cowboys' Week 6 bye, Jerry Jones said that any player that disrespects the flag will not play. Jerry demurred on whether raising a fist at the end of the anthem -- as Irving (and Damontre Moore) did in Week 5 -- qualifies as disrespect, but said, "If there is anything disrespecting the flag, then we will not play," per the Dallas Morning News. "Period. We're going to respect the flag and I'm going to create the perception of it."

Jerry knows all about creating that perception, as he was himself criticized by a reader letter to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for remaining seated during the national anthem at the first home game of his tenure as the Cowboys' owner. 

"JEERS: To Jerry Jones and Liz Taylor, who were the only two people at last Sunday's Cowboys-Redskins game not standing when the national anthem was played. Riding out in a cart … was bad enough, but sitting while it was played was more than many of us could handle. Jerry, please note that in Texas, we stand for the national anthem." 

Jones now believes -- having been told by the president that it was the case -- that there is actually a rule requiring players to stand for the national anthem. However, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told FactCheck.org that players are not required to stand for the anthem. That fact was reinforced this week when owners and players met to discuss the national anthem policy, player protests, and several other social issues and came away not having changed anything regarding the lack of a requirement to stand during the anthem, but instead endorsing criminal justice legislation and deciding to finance an activism bootcamp

Irving said his demonstration at the end of the anthem is neither about disrespect for the flag nor about the comments made by the president that NFL teams should "fire" any "sons of b------" that kneel during the anthem, but rather about police brutality and racism. "Before Trump was here we've been having these problems," Irving said.

Asked by reporters whether he expects negative feedback after whatever happens on Sunday, Irving said, in keeping with other players that have protested or otherwise demonstrated before, during or after the anthem, "I hope not since it's not about the flag in the first place, you know?" 

How Jones reacts to whatever Irving does – if anything – will be interesting to watch. He made a point of saying that any player, even Dak Prescott or Ezekiel Elliott, would not be allowed to play if they violated his policy on the anthem. (It's difficult to say what he considers a violation. It was never made specific, but it can be assumed given the general attitudes around the subject, that kneeling or sitting during the anthem probably qualifies.)

Cowboys players were reportedly angered by Jones' public hard-line stance, and the team had a meeting with Jones about it during the bye week. They mostly declined to talk about what was said during the meeting, but it's possible that Irving emerged determined to demonstrate in some fashion this weekend. (Then again, it's possible he didn't, based on his Saturday afternoon tweet and the statement from his agent.) 

Irving is an incredibly important player for the Cowboys. The clear weakness of their team is the pass rush, and though DeMarcus Lawrence has been an absolute monster this season, Irving was clearly the team's best defensive lineman last season, when Lawrence was alternately injured and ineffective.

We know Jones would do anything to win, but we also know he would do anything to project the appearance of total control. Depending on what Irving's specific actions are on Sunday, those two desires could come into conflict with one another. 

This post has been edited to reflect Irving's tweet seemingly referring to media reports about his plans for Sunday. 

CBS Sports Writer

Jared Dubin is a New York lawyer and writer. He joined CBSSports.com in 2014 and has since spent far too much of his time watching film and working in spreadsheets. Full Bio

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