President Trump on Monday tweeted his appreciation for Jerry Jones after the Dallas Cowboys owner took a hard stance against players who kneel for the national anthem by threatening their playing time.
“A big salute to Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, who will Bench players who disrespect our Flag. ‘Stand for the Anthem or sit for the game!’”
Jones doubled down on his hardline stance Monday, telling ESPN reporter Chris Mortensen there will be “no exceptions” to his rule because players who disrespect the flag need consequences.
"(Jones) said there are no exceptions to this rule or this policy. Any player who disrespects the flag or does not stand for the anthem will not play in the game," Mortensen said. "And if they want to notify the team before the game, hey I'm not going to do this, they can make them inactive. No exceptions -- he started naming Dak Prescott, Zeke Elliott. No exceptions, he said, there are no exceptions."
Jones also cited a passage in the NFL Game Operations Manual that suggests how players act on the sideline when the national anthem is being played. Failing to act in a certain way could lead to fines, suspensions or even a team losing draft picks. Jones credited Trump with reminding him of that.
The NFL has said that the game operations passage is policy and not a rule and that it doesn’t plan to punish players over anthem protests.
Jones made his initial comments hours after Vice President Mike Pence left the game in Indianapolis early when several San Francisco 49ers players took a knee during the national anthem. It is the strongest statement any owner has made since Trump reignited the anthem controversy weeks prior.
“I know this, we cannot ... in the NFL in any way give the implication that we tolerate disrespecting the flag," he said following the Cowboys’ 35-31 loss to the Green Bay Packers. "We know that there is a serious debate in this country about those issues, but there is no question in my mind that the National Football League and the Dallas Cowboys are going to stand up for the flag. So we're clear."
Dallas players have stood on the sideline, many with hands over their hearts, during the anthem ever since former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started kneeling last season in protest of what he believed were instances of racial injustice in the U.S.
Jones said showing respect for the flag and the anthem is more important to him than any potential issues of team unity.
"There is no room here if it comes between looking non-supportive of our players and of each other or creating the impression that you're disrespecting the flag, we will be non-supportive of each other," Jones said. "We will not disrespect the flag."
Jones said he wasn't aware of whether any of his players had raised a fist at the end of the anthem before the Green Bay game.
"I don't know about that," Jones said. "But if there's anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play. OK? Understand? If we are disrespecting the flag, then we won't play. Period."
Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross also said Sunday he changed his view on players kneeling for the national anthems and now wants all players to stand, the Miami Herald reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.