As national anthem protests have become more and more prevalent around the NFL during the 2017 preseason, some teams and their executives have also been forced to be more open with their specific thoughts on the issue.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones doesn't want there to be any confusion regarding his thoughts on the matter. He does not support players sitting or kneeling or doing anything but standing for the national anthem.
"I just feel so strongly that the act of recognizing the flag is a salute to our country and all of the people that have sacrificed so that we can have the liberties we have," Jones said Tuesday during his appearance with Shan and RJ Tuesday on CBS Sports Radio's 105.3 The Fan. "I feel very strongly that everyone should save that moment for the recognition of the flag in a positive way, so I like the way the Cowboys do it."
The Cowboys have not had any players demonstrate during the playing of the anthem, either last year or during the 2017 preseason. At least, there is not currently any public knowledge of it happening.
But while Jones is almost certainly not the only owner, executive, or player in the league that feels this way, there has been a recent trend of players, coaches, and executives at least showing some measure of support for players' decisions to express themselves during the anthem in whatever way they see fit -- even if those people lending support wouldn't necessarily choose to express themselves in that way.
Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch . While his coach, Jack Del Rio, noted that he'd continue to stand himself, he made sure to also state that he supports Lynch's choice to express himself by sitting. (This is a change from last season, when Del Rio during the anthem.) Prior to the Raiders' next game, quarterback Derek Carr wrapped his arm around Khalil Mack to show his support.
Michael Bennett took a seat in Seattle and Justin Britt put his arm around Bennett's shoulder, so Seahawks Pete Carroll had to give his thoughts on the issue. Like Del Rio, Carroll said he thinks everyone should stand, but that he supports Bennett and thinks Bennett has a great heart. Carroll also about Bennett's bona fides as a person and as someone that helps a lot of people with his off-field work.
Malcolm Jenkins raised his fist in the air in Philadelphia, so Eagles teammate Chris Long and spoke about both his support for Jenkins' message and his disgust with the recent violent white supremacist rally in his native Charlottesville, Virginia.
Upwards of 10 Browns players prior to their preseason game against the Giants. The team issued a statement clarifying that the organization has a "profound respect for our country's National Anthem, flag and the servicemen and servicewomen in the United States and abroad. We feel it's important for our team to join in this great tradition and special moment of recognition."
However, the final sentence of the statement acknowledged the players' right to freedom of expression, though it stopped short of expressly supporting the way they chose to exercise that freedom. "At the same time we also respect the great liberties afforded by our country including the freedom of personal expression," the team said.
Tight end Seth DeVale, who became the first white player to kneel during the anthem, explained just why he felt the need to do so. "The United States is the greatest country in the world," DeValve said. "It is because it provides opportunities to its citizens that no other country does. The issue is that it doesn't provide equal opportunity to everybody. And I wanted to support my African-American teammates today who wanted to take a knee. We wanted to draw attention to the fact that there's things in this country that still need to change."
Jerry Jones is just as entitled to his opinion on the matter as any of these aforementioned players and coaches, but it will be interesting to watch his response if one of the Cowboys' players or coaches elects to kneel or sit during the anthem in the future. Just because it has not happened yet, doesn't mean it never will.