If Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was still alive there are two things we could be sure of — he wouldn’t be a Dallas Cowboys fan, and he wouldn’t like Jerry Jones.
A week after Jim Trotter dropped a 53-page racial discrimination/retaliation lawsuit against the NFL — detailing the rampant racism that occurs within the league — Jones is trying to disguise himself as an ally, in efforts to refute the allegations in Trotter’s lawsuit that claim he said, “If Blacks feel some kind of way, they should buy their own team, and hire who they want to hire,” in 2020.
“Jim [Trotter]’s a friend and I think a lot of him,” Jones claimed. “I hate that we’ve got some litigation and hopefully we will address all of that, but the overall concern I would say is just not accurate.” Jones is also claiming that he’s trying to find ways to increase interest in minority ownership — notice he didn’t say Black — and has pointed out Magic Johnson as if he were some kind of “magical negro.”
“Magic is a great ambassador and I’d carry him piggyback to get him involved in the NFL,” said Jones, who didn’t mention that Johnson only owns four percent of the Washington Commanders.
“I love the National Football League,” added the Cowboys owner. “I love football, and if we can improve it by having people that aren’t in ownership today in ownership, I’ll walk across Texas to do it.”
If you’ve never hired a Black person to coach your team, then you definitely wouldn’t “walk across Texas” to help the league get their first Black majority owner.
“First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate,” Dr. King wrote in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” in 1963, detailing how people like Jones were a problem then, in the same ways they still are. He continued:
“I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”
If you were wondering, of course, the Cowboys commemorated MLK Day this year by releasing a 22-second clip to social media. They conveniently used Dak Prescott — the team’s longtime Black quarterback — to narrate the clip.
The infuriating thing about Jones’ comments is that he’s always claimed to have the solution while willingly remaining a part of the problem.
“I made this very point to Jerry Jones during our conversation and asked him if the NFL would change its guidelines for purchasing franchises. He gave me the “I didn’t have the means when I bought the Cowboys but found a way, so Blacks can do the same,” Trotter wrote about Jones in a social media post. “That is not a direct quote, but close. I said if the next franchise sold for $4B, how many Blacks did he know who had the interest & net worth to write a check for $1.2B up front. Of course, he identified Jay Z, which *always seems to be the go-to answer for t/ NFL & its owners.”
Last season, Jones was taking pregame photos with Dan Snyder when arguably the worst owner sports has ever seen was still in control of the Commanders. Three months later, Jones was still claiming to be an ally of Snyder. Six months after that, Jones told cameras, “I think it’s going to be a great day for the NFL. Exciting. It’s, I think, a hallmark day,” as he arrived at the owners’ meeting to approve the sale of the Commanders, officially ridding the league of Snyder.
If Jones wanted the league to have more diversity Black people in positions of power he would have hired a Black head coach, have a history of having Black general managers, and team presidents, and the Cowboys would have a plethora of Black minority owners. A 2022 report from The Washington Post detailed how these facts, and this very notion, are missing from Jones’ resume, as the most powerful owner in the NFL could have easily led the way for diversity if he wanted to, but never has.
The NFL has had a chance to make history over the last few years by allowing Black majority ownership to happen in the league. Wealthy Black men like Byron Allen and Robert F. Smith have either been overlooked or had their bids denied.
Don’t tell us what you aspire to do knowing that you could have accomplished it years ago. The Jacksonville Jaguars’ Shad Khan is the first and only majority owner of color in league history.
In the coming days, weeks, and months, Jones will undoubtedly speak on this subject again, given that he continues to deny Trotter’s allegations, as he’s fixated on trying to make people believe he’s one of the good rich white guys that’s trying to help, instead of being the rich white guy that’s a roadblock for progress — as he’s always been. It’s why I know that Stephen A. Smith will more than likely come to Jerry Jones’ aid — again — to be a protector for the man whom he’s very fond of, given that he wants nothing more than to be just like Jones.
Carron J. Phillips