Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Dontari Poe says he likely will kneel during the national anthem this season, and he’s hoping team owner Jerry Jones will end his silence on racial injustice and express support for his players.
Poe, who signed with Dallas as a free agent this offseason, told Bleacher Report that he has not spoken with Jones, who also is the Cowboys’ general manager. Jones has not released a statement or spoken publicly since George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis resulted in protests across the country.
“Haven’t talked to Jerry at all,” Poe told the website. “I hope he comes out and shows his support. … You are an owner of an NFL team — you get what I’m saying? The majority of this team are these people that are being oppressed. So even if you are not going to be in the forefront, we need to know we have your support in that type of way.”
Poe knelt during the national anthem while with the Atlanta Falcons in 2017 with the support of coach Dan Quinn. No Cowboys player has knelt during the national anthem to protest racial injustice. Jones has been vocal that he won’t tolerate kneeling because he believes it is disrespectful to the American flag. He did, however, kneel with his team before the anthem and then linked arms with them during the anthem before a game in 2017.
Poe told Bleacher Report that he is “definitely leaning toward” kneeling this season, and if he does, there should be no question why he is doing so. “If you don’t understand it, then you just don’t want to know it,” he told the website.
Last month, the Cowboys released a video on social media against racial injustice, but Jones did not appear in the video.
The Cowboys’ Gerald McCoy, who was Poe’s teammate with the Carolina Panthers last season, also has called on Jones to break his silence. The defensive tackle made his comments during appearances last month on ESPN’s First Take and on NFL Live, when he said Jones’ silence “doesn’t look good.”
“His silence definitely means a lot because in any other situation [he] will have something to say about most things,” Poe told Bleacher Report. “I was once a proponent of doing stuff behind closed doors, and doing what I need to do not out in the forefront. … So hopefully he is doing that, but who knows what he is doing. … Personally, I would hope that he comes out and says, ‘OK, I am willing to help, I am willing to fight, and I am willing to be with y’all.'”
Several NFL players and some coaches, including the Houston Texans‘ Bill O’Brien, have said they plan to kneel during the national anthem this season. Commissioner Roger Goodell also said in video last month that the NFL erred in how it has dealt with player protests started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016.
“What the league is trying to express is the same sentiment that everybody is expressing: that that was a protest on behalf of police brutality before, and we missed it,” New Orleans Saints linebacker Demario Davis told Bleacher Report. “Everybody has to admit that.”