The NAACP on Tuesday condemned Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones's decision not to allow his team's players from taking the field if they kneel in protest during the national anthem.
"Jerry Jones’ comments are more than tone-deaf, more than misinformed and misguided — they are a public commitment by an NFL owner to violate his players’ Constitutional right to free speech," Tony Covington, a former NFL safety and the NAACP's senior director of corporate affairs, said in the group's statement.
“This is not an issue about our flag, this is an issue about police brutality, (racism, and the ability of members of the NFL whose communities are disproportionately impacted by police misconduct to peacefully say enough,” added NAACP interim President and CEO Derrick Johnson.
Jones took a hard stance on the controversial protests on Sunday, saying that any team member who is "disrespectful to the flag" will not be allowed to play in games, and added that the National Football League should not withstand such disrespect either.
The Cowboys owner's comments echoed those of President TrumpDonald TrumpMark Walker to stay in North Carolina Senate race Judge lays out schedule for Eastman to speed up records processing for Jan. 6 panel Michael Avenatti cross-examines Stormy Daniels in his own fraud trial MORE, who has called on the NFL to fire or suspend players found to be "disrespecting our Flag & Country."
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem before games last year, a move that many NFL teams and players emulated this year to protest racial injustice and police brutality.
“This is not simply a Black issue due to the number of white people also killed by police, but we know historically that when justice occurs for African Americans, all other members of our society benefit as well,” said Johnson.
The NAACP also said in the statement that it had asked for a meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to "determine how he can best protect his players," following his statement Tuesday that “everyone should stand for the National Anthem" at NFL games, including the players.
The White House on Tuesday applauded reports that the NFL is considering changing its rules to force players to stand for "The Star-Spangled Banner."