Jerry Jones unequivocal: NFL 'suffering' from anthem actions

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones' concerns about the protests during the national anthem are not just about what is good for his team but what is good for the NFL.

"There is no question the league is suffering negative effects from these protests," Jones said.

Two weeks ago Jones said if any of his players "disrespect the flag," during the national anthem that they would be benched. At a league meeting in New York, owners and players had open dialogue about the protests but no change was made to the league's policy that does not mandate players to stand during the anthem.

The Cowboys have not had a player protest during the national anthem. On Sunday, defensive end David Irving briefly raised his fist at the end of the anthem, like he had Oct. 8 against the Green Bay Packers.

"I know that he was very deliberate during the anthem and of course that's the issue with me," Jones said after the Cowboys' 40-10 win over the San Francisco 49ers. "I'm very proud of the way they all handled themselves."

Irving stood during the anthem with a fist over his heart. He quickly raised his fist at the end. Damontre Moore, who raised his fist at the end of the anthem against the Packers as well, did not raise his fist Sunday. Instead he gave a quick salute.

Irving said, "I wouldn't want to disrespect the anthem; wait until it's over."

"I've been asked that for the past three weeks, my statement is my statement," Irving said. "That was a statement, nothing really to say about it. If you are in a position I am in or everyone else in this locker room is, you have to watch what you say, play things as smart as you can. I'm not going to speak on this, certain things are better off left unsaid."

The Niners had seven players kneel during the anthem, which drew a reaction from President Donald Trump via Twitter on Monday morning.

Jones said he was aware of the protests San Francisco has had for more than a year but was not concerned with what the 49ers did.

"My interests is how the Cowboys are conducting themselves as players both on and off, again I just can't tell you how proud I am of the players," Jones said.

Jones' interests also focus on the success of the NFL. He said he has heard from sponsors about the protests.

"Our ability to be substantive is based on having a strong NFL, a league that people are really interested in and want to watch and want to watch the games," Jones said. "At all times, if I am anything, I am first and foremost a proponent of making the NFL strong. Making us have as many people watching the game as we can and watching in light of what we are doing and that's playing football. If all this makes you stronger to represent messages, let's don't do it in a way that tears down the strength of the NFL."