Jerry Jones sidestepped the question of whether he would change his policy requiring Dallas Cowboys players to stand during the national anthem.
Still, the owner who has taken the hardest line among his NFL counterparts against protesting racial injustice during “The Star-Spangled Banner” did acknowledge a changing social tide after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
Two years ago, Jones wouldn't even support players staying in the locker room during the national anthem, declaring the club's policy was for players to be on the sideline, “toe on the line."
While he reiterated his belief in standing for the anthem in his annual pre-training camp meeting with reporters this week, Jones tried to say he intended to be more open to the points of view of players.
“That was then ... This is now,” Jones said Wednesday. “These are very sensitive times. I have nothing to prove as far as where I’m standing with the flag and where the Cowboys stand. I have nothing to prove regarding my players and my support of our players.
“I want our players to understand the perception and where they’re coming from regarding the flag and the sensitivity there, and the many memories there. And I want our fans to understand ... where our players are coming from there.”
Jones was the first owner to suggest he might bench players over kneeling for the anthem. That was 2017, when the issue flared over comments from President Donald Trump a year after Colin Kaepernick first knelt to call attention to issues of racial injustice.
With more players kneeling in response to Trump three years ago, Jones joined players and coaches as the Cowboys locked arms and knelt before the anthem on a Monday night in Arizona. Everyone stood before the anthem was played.