At least one Dallas Cowboys star doesn’t need to hear a message from team owner Jerry Jones when it comes to the civil rights and social justice statements that have swept across the NFL and America since the homicide of George Floyd last month in Minneapolis.
In an interesting twist, the man who is shrugging off Jones’ silence also happens to be one of the Cowboys’ most outspoken players: defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence.
Lawrence said he was indifferent to Jones’ silence over the last month, telling the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he didn’t see how a statement from the Cowboys owner or NFL protests could effect change in the country. It was a notable sentiment, given that fellow Dallas defensive lineman Gerald McCoy recently criticized Jones’ silence since the death of Floyd and ensuing social unrest that swept the country.
Those events prompted an unprecedented show of support from both the NFL league office and every team in the league — which included a statement from the Cowboys, but not Jones specifically.
It’s that latter point — the lack of Jones’ specific voice — that has drawn criticism. Not only because he’s considered the most powerful team owner in the NFL, but also because Jones has historically demanded that his players refrain from kneeling in protest during the national anthem. While Lawrence didn’t endorse Jones’ views on kneeling, the star defensive lineman suggested to the Star-Telegram that protests were divisive.
“Protests ain’t gonna help change anything,” Lawrence told the Star-Telegram on Saturday, while attending a rally to support establishing Juneteenth as a national holiday. “It ain’t gonna do nothing but start more riots between different ethnicities and different backgrounds. The real thing to do is focus on our youth. If our youth understands our struggles — our history — if our youth understand that they can be more than the position that they was placed in, then that’s how we thinking.”
Asked if he expected to hear from Jones at some point, Lawrence replied: “This whole situation has nothing to do with Jerry or anybody in Jerry’s position.”
“This is about us coming together, focusing on how we can make a change, focusing on how we can come together and be united,” Lawrence said. “I don’t feel like one man in Jerry’s position or any of those types of positions can really make a change. The only thing they can do is give us money to make a change. What kind of help do we need from Jerry? We need to stand on our own two feet, be the men that we’re supposed to be, and build foundations and build these centers to help.”
Where it concerned Jones’ silence, Lawrence was clearly apart from McCoy, who made several pointed statements about the Cowboys owner last week — in hopes that the franchise would get behind the effort to make Juneteenth a national holiday.
“You have the players, who have their own brand, but we’re all under the umbrella of the Dallas Cowboys,” McCoy told ESPN. “The Dallas Cowboys are the most recognized franchise in the world. They can get behind it, whether it’s the players or just being in the movement, period, and showing their support. It would be great to hear a statement from the Cowboys, great to hear a statement from Jerry Jones in support of everything that’s going on. Will that get me in trouble saying that? I don’t know, but the truth is it needs to be said. The problem is people are afraid to have the conversations.”
McCoy later sharpened his criticism of Jones’ silence during an appearance on ESPN’s “First Take.”
“It don’t look good, I’ll say that,” McCoy said. “It doesn’t look good, and you can’t be silent at a time like this. I’m new to the Cowboys organization, and I’m blessed to be part of this organization. … But when things are not going well for the team, you can hear him screaming. Well, this is life. This is bigger than just football, it’s bigger than money, it’s bigger than winning a Super Bowl. And something needs to be said.”
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