The NAACP issued a Tuesday press release charging Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, with violating NFL players’ free speech rights by threatening to bench players who continue to kneel during the national anthem.
In their statement, the organization indicated that it plans to meet with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell “in order to determine how he can best protect his players.”
The organization faces an uphill battle if it hopes to change Goodell’s mind. Just yesterday, the commissioner sent a letter to all 32 NFL teams, stating, “The current dispute over the National Anthem is threatening to erode the unifying power of the game.”
Goodell also indicated that the league believes that “everyone should stand.” (RELATED: NFL Commissioner Tells Owners ‘Everyone Should Stand’ for Anthem)
The NAACP is determined to fight back against Jones in what it considers to be a civil rights issue.
“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 – one of the principles on which our nation was founded,” said Tony Covington, a former NFL player who now serves as the NAACP’s Senior Director of Corporate Affairs.
“They are proof that athletes like Colin Kaepernick who have quietly and peacefully used their platform to protest violence against communities of color do so at their own peril.”
The NAACP’s statement specifically cited Vice President Pence’s decision to leave a Colts game as a reason why it believes “the NFL has an obligation to take a strong stance on behalf of its athletes and their rights.”
The NAACP is not the only organization taking issue with Jones’s decision. According to ESPN, 100 of the United Labor Unions filed a complaint against Jones, alleging that he violated the National Labor Relations Act by threatening to bench players who protest.
The filing to the National Labor Relations Board, according to ESPN, states that “the employer, evidenced by repeated public statements, is attempting to threaten, coerce and intimidate all Dallas Cowboys players on the roster in order to prevent them from exercising concerted activity protected under the act by saying that he will fire any players involved in such concerted activity.”
It is worth noting that Jones never said that any players would be fired. He did state, however, that players who refuse to stand during the anthem “will not play.”
The latest iteration of Kaepernick controversy comes after yet another week of declining NFL ratings. (RELATED: ‘Sunday Night Football’ Ratings Decline Continues)