Jason Garrett: Jerry Jones 'very sensitive' to players' issues

Updated: October 12, 2017, 2:06 PM ET
By Todd Archer | ESPN Staff Writer

FRISCO, Texas -- While Jerry Jones told Dallas Cowboys players in a meeting Wednesday that they must stand for the national anthem to show respect for the flag, coach Jason Garrett said the intention of the session came from the owner's "love, admiration and respect for the players."

After telling reporters Sunday that a player would be benched if he did not stand for the anthem, Jones again made that point to the Cowboys' players Wednesday, adding context as to why it is important they stand.

In addition to Jones' personal beliefs, a source said Jones mentioned television ratings and sponsorships that ultimately affect the players as well. According to Garrett, Jones wanted to provide the players "some avenues to help make the impact of the issues that we're most concerned about."

"He's very sensitive to some of the issues, as we all are, that the players are talking about," Garrett said. "We all want to make an impact, and he's someone that can help the players do that. He wanted to make sure they knew that."

Quarterback Dak Prescott said Wednesday night that the meeting went well.

"I mean, we ironed out everything that we needed at this time," Prescott said.

All-Pro center Travis Frederick spoke Thursday about how the dialogue between the players has been productive and that teammates are listening to each other because of the sacrifices they make together in playing the sport.

He said the challenge is transferring the dialogue from the locker room to the public to raise the level of discussion beyond who is right or wrong.

"That, I think, is where that gap is, and we need to figure that out as players and as an organization, but also the public kind of needs to work on that too," Frederick said. "Like I said, it's a divisive issue, and there's lots of things in this world that are divisive, and unfortunately this has become a spotlight thing. And that's not what. ... I'm not trying to do.

"I'm here to play football, and I'm here to do my job, so I think hopefully there will be some things coming up through the pipeline to kind of make the awareness of the issue better and take it away from the game itself and people can have their opinions heard. But, as of right now, I don't know specifically what those things are."

Prior to their Sept. 25 game at the Arizona Cardinals, the Cowboys followed Jones' lead in locking arms during pregame introductions, taking a knee before the anthem and then standing arm in arm during the anthem.

Free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick gained national attention last season when he kneeled during the national anthem to protest social injustice and police brutality.

In two games since, the Cowboys have stood for the anthem like they always have. Defensive linemen Damontre Moore and David Irving raised their fists at the end of the anthem prior to the Green Bay game. Garrett spoke to both players Monday and said neither would be disciplined.

Speaking on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Tuesday, Jones said the players could still show a sign of protest as long as it was before the anthem.

"There's no question that it's a complex issue, and that's why it continues to be in the forefront in a lot of ways," Garrett said. "I think the biggest thing that we've tried to emphasize to our players is, the goal is to make an impact in the community. The goal is to make an impact on what the issues are. I think it's important to identify the issues and identify the way you can make an impact. I think that was part of Mr. Jones' message yesterday."

The Cowboys are holding their final practice of the bye week and will return to The Star on Tuesday. Garrett said the timing of the bye allowed the Cowboys more time to discuss the issue, but when the team returns to practice, the focus needs to be on football.

"I think like a lot of things in life, a lot of people say, 'just focus on football,'" Garrett said. "But as we all know in our lives, there's a lot of other things going on in our lives. So, sometimes as a player, a coach, as a football team, you have to focus on this particular thing to address it, to solve it, to move on, so you can get back to the business of football. And that happens with our players and our coaches each and every day -- situations they have with their families, whether they're health concerns or some of the off-field issues that we all deal with in our lives.

"Sometimes you have to focus on those things so you can get back to the business of focusing on football. I think our team's done a really good job on that."

Todd Archer

ESPN Staff Writer

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