On the same day the Giants lost to the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving in what was the most watched regular-season NFL game ever, an embarrassing photo surfaced of the owner of what people like to call America’s Team.
In the picture — which is 65 years old, by the way — a young Jerry Jones can be seen standing behind a mob of white students blocking the path of Black students trying to integrate a high school in Little Rock, Ark.
Jones, all these years later, insists he wasn’t part of the mob, that he was just looking on.
The problem isn’t with what Jones did or didn’t do in 1957. The problem is with what he isn’t saying or doing about it now.
To hear Jones tell the story, his only transgression was defying his high school football coach who had told players to stay away from the confrontation.
“I frankly was worried about my coach kicking my butt for doing exactly the thing they told us not to do,” Jones told the Washington Post, which unearthed the photo.
But what Jones didn’t say all these years later was that it was wrong and disgraceful for those Black students to be dehumanized for wanting nothing more than equal access to a quality education.
Instead of addressing the issue head on, Jones did what he pays player Bryan Anger $3 million a year to do — he punted.
Jones, who is 80 now, has had plenty of opportunity to put his high school experience in perspective.
If he had been at all outraged by the white mob he sneak-peaked in his youth, Jones might have been more sympathetic when quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem to protest racial injustice.
Instead, Jones, one of the most powerful owners in all of sports, along with with Donald Trump, practically led the mob against Kaepernick, and vowed to bench any Cowboy who “disrespects” the flag.
Jones relented, some, when he took a knee with his players in 2017 before a Monday Night Football game.
What Jones witnessed in Little Rock could have also come in handy on the subject of diversity in the NFL, which was recently sued over its lack of Black coaches and executives.
Jones agreed the league, 70% of whose players are Black, “can do better.” Meanwhile, none of the eight head coaches he hired since buying the team in 1989 have been Black.
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, another powerful figure in sports, wanted to know why he wasn’t asked to weigh in on the Jones picture after being bombarded with questions about his former teammate, Kyrie Irving, who was mired in an anti-Semitism controversy.
“I was wondering why I haven’t gotten a question from you guys about the Jerry Jones photo,” James said to the media at a recent post-game press conference. “But when the Kyrie thing was going on, you guys were quick to ask us questions about that.”
“I know it was years and years ago and we all make mistakes, I get it, ” James added. “But it seems like it’s just been buried under, like, ‘Oh, it happened. OK, we just move on.’”
Jones, in the Washington Post interview, expressed some regret about his presence on the high school steps that day, beyond earning the wrath of his coach.
“I’ll be very candid with you, I’ve often asked (myself), ‘Why didn’t you do more?” Jones said. “’Why didn’t you get up and have them come up on the bus and sit rather than standing back there? Why didn’t you do more?’”
Well, now Jones is driving the bus. He isn’t just watching from the background. He owns America’s Team. There’s a lot more he can do. Right now.