Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, in a phone conversation with ESPN on Monday night, said the team policy that prohibits players from playing if they "disrespect" the flag is not new and has been in effect since last season, when players around the league started to kneel during the national anthem.
He said he decided to address it with reporters after Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers when they asked Jones about Vice President Mike Pence leaving a game in Indianapolis earlier in the day when San Francisco 49ers players took a knee.
"If there's anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play," Jones said Sunday. "Understand? We will not ... if we are disrespecting the flag, then we will not play. Period."
Jones clarified Monday night that not standing at attention during the anthem is what he considers disrespectful and unacceptable.
He said players "need consequences" to stand up to peer pressure, and that "it's in the best interests of the Dallas Cowboys, the NFL and the players" to honor the flag.
In a tweet Monday night, President Donald Trump praised Jones' stance.
A big salute to Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, who will BENCH players who disrespect our Flag."Stand for Anthem or sit for game!"— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 10, 2017
Jones said the policy applies to all players, with no exceptions, even if the player is a star such as wide receiver Dez Bryant or quarterback Dak Prescott. Jones said any player who communicated his unwillingness to adhere to the policy would be made inactive for the game, and if a player took action during the anthem, he simply would not play.
Jones also addressed the impression that the league's operations manual doesn't properly address the issue.
"The game ops manual has an ambiguity being used for those who don't want to enforce it -- the word 'should' stand for anthem is their ambiguity -- but how can it be ambiguous when it cites the potential penalties of fines, suspension or loss of draft picks for failing to adhere?" Jones asked.
Jones said he understands the social concerns surrounding the issue, adding that he has "always had our players' backs on issues I've been criticized for." But he said he won't compromise when it comes to the anthem
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said earlier Monday that he hadn't yet discussed Jones' postgame comments with the owner.
"Again, I believe our team believes in the approach that we take in regards to the anthem and showing respect for the flag and for the national anthem prior to the game," Garrett said.
Two Cowboys players, defensive ends Damontre Moore and David Irving, raised their fists at the end of the national anthem before Sunday's game, but Garrett said Monday the players would not be disciplined.