In case you haven’t noticed, the Dallas Cowboys (2-5) are pretty fucking bad this season. And while the offense has had more than its fair share of troubles, it’s the defense that should be charged with treason.
To that end, it should come as no surprise that Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones is looking to tweak the roster, yet it’s how he’s going about doing so that’s raising eyebrows.
Defensive tackle Dontari Poe signed a two-year, $8.5 million pact with the Cowboys this offseason, but after collecting only seven tackles and no sacks, Jones has apparently decided to cut his losses and release the former Pro Bowler.
On the surface, this isn’t much to take note of—until you remember that Poe was the only player on the entire team to protest during the national anthem. Then a light bulb appears overhead and you realize that doing so is something that Jones has been vehemently against since the dawn of time.
“We cannot in any way give the implication that we tolerate disrespecting the flag. We know that there is a serious debate in this country about those issues, but there is no question in my mind, that the [NFL] and the Dallas Cowboys are going to stand up for the flag.”
So was Poe cut for kneeling?
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen asked Jones directly if Poe’s peaceful protests factored into his decision and Jones refused to address the matter. Instead, he offered a sassy non-answer.
“When you’re 30 pounds overweight and you’re not doing anything about what’s keeping you from performing well on the field, there is no reason to get into the other stuff,” Jones said.
The “other stuff,” of course, being Poe exercising his right to peacefully protest.
“I understand your question, and I’m deliberately not going to answer it,” Jones continued. “We have a platform here, but the platform on the football field has a high standard, and [Poe] was not up to the standard. He needed to correct that, and he did not. I’m going to leave it at that.”
Clearly, Poe did himself no favors with his play on the field. But does anyone really believe that Poe taking a knee didn’t factor into him getting cut? Jones didn’t sound particularly thrilled with Poe’s peaceful protests when he was asked about them in September either.
“I thought our players, I thought they gave it sensitivity,” Jones said in September. “They showed respect to Poe’s decision. I think they certainly did [...] show a sensitivity to our fans as a team. [...] All in all, I thought our team was very real and very genuine in the way it approached it.”
He also had the following response at the time when he realized what Poe was doing:
Refusing to address a situation head-on is textbook Jerry Jones, as is removing it from the equation while pretending it was never a source of contention in the first place (See: Jason Garrett).
All I know is deliberately not addressing these issues is exactly why we have so many within this country. And if Cowboys players don’t feel like they can be their complete selves without fear of retribution, how are they supposed to feel comfortable performing to the best of their abilities on the field? Do you bust your ass for a boss/job you hate?
This team has been a perennial failure for forever now, and it’s safe to assume that Jerry running his organization like a plantation has a lot to do with it.