President Donald Trump on Friday praised Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, despite the fact that NFL franchise owner had said the commander-in-chief's involvement with player protests in the league was “problematic.”
Trump tweeted, “Way to go Jerry. This is what the league should do!” along with a link to a Fox Business story that referred to Jones having said that Dallas Cowboys players must stand for the national anthem.
At a team press conference earlier this week, Jones had said that team’s policy was “you stand during the anthem, toe on the line.”
The statement evidently pleased Trump, who had been a vocal critic of NFL players who knelt during the national anthem as a form of protest over social justice issues over the last two seasons.
Trump, however, appeared to ignore Jones’ other remarks, in which he criticized the president for having gotten involved in the matter at all.
"His interest in what we're doing is problematic, from my chair, and I would say in general the owners' chair," Jones said at his team’s Wednesday press conference. "It's unprecedented, if you really think about it. But like the very game itself, that's the way it is and we'll deal with it.”
“We feel strongly about how we deal with it and we’ll do so accordingly, but, yes, I, like everybody, would like for it to go away,” he added.
In May, the NFL announced a new policy mandating that all players who are on the field when the national anthem is heard before a game must stand — or they can choose to remain in the locker room without penalty. Teams would be subject to a fine if a player disobeys, under that policy.
But earlier this month, the league halted enforcement of the rules after the Miami Dolphins franchise was criticized for considering suspensions of players who protest.
The NFL and NFL Players Associations are now working on a “resolution to the anthem issue,” the two sides said in a statement.
Responding to the development, Trump bashed the league on Twitter last week, saying he “can’t believe” that the debate "is alive and well again."
Meanwhile, NFL players reacted critically to Jones' new team policy.
Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, who explained why he decided to raise his fist in protest during the national anthem in a wide-ranging interview with NBC News' Lester Holt earlier this week, told ESPN Friday he felt Jones was a "bully."
"It’s unfortunate that you have owners like him who use (their) position to intimidate and intentionally thwart even the idea of players thinking individually or having a voice about issues that affect their communities," Jenkins, a nine-year NFL veteran, said.