Jerry Jones hadn’t spoken publicly in over three months, so when he spoke at the Cowboys opening press conference, you knew he would make headlines.
The two major topics of discussion were COVID-19 and social justice issues.
While the NBA and NHL are playing in bubbles and MLB is playing in empty stadiums, Jerry Jones says the Cowboys will be playing in front of fans this fall.
“We’ll adhere to all protocols,” Jones said. “And we will adapt them to the uniqueness of our stadium. That’s within the protocol. We have a real unique situation. And I think that we’re going to be able to really have a great experience. I think that our safety precautions that we’re doing won’t be unfamiliar to a lot of people when we look at the general protocol of the country or we look at how you get together numbers of people.
“We will have our challenges. The people that will be there will be there at their own volition, just as the players that are on this field out here for the Cowboys are here because they have chosen to be here. Our fans will be in the stadium because they have chosen to be there. I’m completely confident that if I’ve ever seen a general population have had information of where the issues are, where the vulnerabilities are, how to conduct yourself, the ‘do right’ rule relative to the person with you and beside you, that you do know or don’t know. I’m confident that we’ve got a very educated situation, and that our fans can come and have a safe experience at our stadium along with, of course, our players having the safety they’re required on the football field.”
The number of fans in attendance has yet to be determined. Jones said it is currently a “moving scale” as the state of Texas is currently limiting venues to a maximum of 50 percent capacity. That would put AT&T Stadium at around 40,000 fans for a Cowboys home game.
Some of the reasons Jones thinks it’s possible to host fans are the stadium’s three-million square feet, its unique suite capacities and the venue’s configuration (for example, it separates fans on the southwest side from getting near fans on the northwest side).
It is no surprise that Jones is all in on playing games in front of fans, despite the pandemic and all other sports leagues electing to play without fans. Jones is a business man before anything else, he talks money.
Forbes estimated in May that the Cowboys’ total revenue in 2018 was $950 million – $350 million more than any other NFL team. $621 million of that came from stadium revenue. So if any team is going to try to host fans, it’ll be the Cowboys.
The other topic headlined during the press conference dealt with peaceful protests, particularly kneeling during the anthem. Two years ago, Jones said “our policy is that you stand for the anthem, toe on the line.”
This year Jones gave a slightly different stance, one a little more open minded.
“That was then, two years ago. This is now. We’ve had very, very sensitive times. I don’t need to share that we’re also involved in another very sensitive time with the challenge and the war, literally, we’re on with the virus. These are very sensitive times. I have nothing to prove as far as where I’m standing with the flag and where the Cowboys stance. I have nothing to prove regarding my players and my support of our players. What I do want to show, and want us all to be a part of, is a word called grace. Grace. Not only grace in our actions, but grace in our understanding where they’re coming from.
“I want our players to understand the perception and where they’re coming from regarding the flag and the sensitivity there and the many memories there. And I want our fans to understand and better do, because of what has gone on over the last few months, I want them to understand where our players are coming from there. And they do not feel like that the ones who basically want to do that, kneel – they do not feel like they are dishonoring the flag. I’m going to have grace. I’ve had grace. Many of you have written and criticized me for having too much grace and understanding regarding our players, and I probably have. I’m going to have grace regarding the people who are sensitive about our flag. Somewhere in between there in the weeks as we get together with our team, as we discuss with the team, somewhere in between there is how we’re going to handle it.”
New Cowboys defensive ends, Dontari Poe and Gerald McCoy have each spoken publicly about wanting to hear from Jones on social issues. Jones has yet to sit down with any of his players about these issues, but he has been listening.
“Am I interested in what any player, what any of our media, am I interested in what everybody has to say about any issue? You bet,” Jones said. “And I have rabbit ears. I really do. Having said that, I am listening. The point is, we will do it in a way we think is sensitive and has as much grace for the genuine feelings of everybody in mind.”