Jason Garrett: Jerry Jones met with Cowboys about anthem decree out of 'love'

If Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones was hoping to put the anthem protests behind him when he declared Sunday that "any player who disrespects the flag or does not stand for the anthem will not play in the game," it didn't work. On Wednesday, Jones met with his players to discuss the new rule, and reportedly explained that his stance on the anthem was because he wants to play the bad guy and deflect attention from the rest of the team.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett says Jones' intention for the meeting came out of "love, admiration and respect for the players." And not only is he sensitive to the players' concerns but wants to give them an avenue to express them

"He's very sensitive to some of the issues, as we all are, that the players are talking about," Garrett said, via ESPN.com's Todd Archer. "We all want to make an impact, and he's someone that can help the players do that. He wanted to make sure they knew that. ...

"There's no question that it's a complex issue, and that's why it continues to be in the forefront in a lot of ways," the coach continued. "I think the biggest thing that we've tried to emphasize to our players is, the goal is to make an impact in the community. The goal is to make an impact on what the issues are. I think it's important to identify the issues and identify the way you can make an impact. I think that was part of Mr. Jones' message yesterday."

Jones, who several weeks ago knelt with his players before the anthem ahead of a nationally televised Monday night game against the Cardinals, told CBS Sports Radio's 105.3 The Fan on Tuesday that players are still free to express themselves, with one caveat: "If we're going to have any recognition, it needs to be before the anthem."

Jones added that while he feels the Cowboys have been sensitive to social issues, he's also wary of alienating his fanbase.

"There is a debate about standing for the flag, being disrespectful, so I am removing us from that debate," he said.

The Cowboys are currently on their bye, which Garrett says allows the team more time to work through and discuss the issue. But when practice resumes the focus needs to be on football.

"Sometimes you have to focus on those things so you can get back to the business of focusing on football," he said. '"I think our team's done a really good job on that."

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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