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Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones claimed on Thursday evening he was just a “curious kid” in a group of white students confronting Black students outside North Little Rock High School. The Washington Post unearthed the photo of a 15-year-old Jones.
“That was, gosh, 65 years ago, a curious kid,” Jones said.
“Nobody there had any idea, frankly, what was going to take place,” Jones continued. “I’ve got a habit of sticking this nose in the right place at the wrong time.”
While the photo may be aged, Jones’ decision-making as a President, General Manager, and Owner has long reflected sentiments of a man who simply stood by and watched.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the White moderate who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice.”
As Black head coaches historically and presently struggle to get a fair shake in the NFL, Jones himself has never hired a single one at any time since his ownership reign began in 1989. Much like Indianapolis Colts owner, Jim Irsay’s decision to hire TV commentator Jeff Saturday rather than consider a Black head coach, Jones too, allows for his Black coaches to have positions within the organization — but not at the helm.
While Colts legend and wide receiver coach Reggie Wayne was already in the building and qualified to take over, he, like Eric Bieniemy, Bryon Leftwich, and the Cowboys Gary Brown was looked over and never given the opportunity their inexperienced white counterparts are often handed on a silver platter.
“Gary Brown had a big ? partnered with a big smile & a big personality. His energy & spirit were infectious. He lit up every room he walked into & touched the lives of those who knew him in such a positive way…” – Jerry Jones
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) April 11, 2022
Black coaches across the NFL often spend their entire careers in speciality positions, waiting for advancement which is solely predicated on the willingness of a majority of white owners to remove their unified and proven bias.
The head coach and quarterback are considered the dual “face of the franchise”, yet with the world’s most profitable sports franchise in his control, Jones has rarely, if ever, considered a Black man to represent “America’s team.”
Even on the field, football fans remember how swiftly Jones rewarded their former underachieving QB Tony Romo with a max contract, while current Cowboys QB Dak Prescott had to continually prove his worth Sunday after Sunday in order to be rewarded with a contract of his own.
Considered the most powerful and influential owner in the league, his uncompromising stance on Colin Kaepernick and kneeling was most noticeable in recent years, forever turning off a segment of the universally ubiquitous Cowboys fanbase.
LeBron James on why he’s not @dallascowboys fan anymore:
“Nah man I had to sit put on the Cowboys man. It just a things that were going on when guys were kneeling… [The] organization were like if do that around here you won’t play for this franchise again.”#DallasCowboys pic.twitter.com/gYusCcs8KY
— Landon Buford (@LandonBuford) October 27, 2022
According to YahooSports!, the archival photo of Jones was taken on Sept. 9, 1957, the day six Black students were to attend classes at his North Little Rock High School. This was five days after “Little Rock Nine”, which President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent federal troops to safely transport nine Black students into Arkansas’ Little Rock Central High. Jones’ high school was roughly 4 miles away.
There, on Sept. 9, North Little Rock students sought to block Black students’ entry. Jones, who was one month shy of his 15th birthday, attended. He said Thursday night, “I’m sure glad that we’re a long way from that. I am. That would remind me: Just continue to do everything we can to not have those kind of things happen.”
A living member of The Little Rock Nine, Ernest Green spoke to CNN on Friday morning, he desired Jones to be less reflective and more future focused on improving diversity and inclusion within his Dallas Cowboys organization. He said in part, “I think that rather than talk to Jerry about what happened in 1957, let’s go forward and see what we can do this year.”