Defensive tackle Dontari Poe was the lone member of the Dallas Cowboys to kneel in each of the team’s first three games this season. Despite kneeling, he received support from his teammates, as well as Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
“I had to talk with Jerry [Jones], had to talk with teammates, coaches to make sure this didn’t take away from our ultimate goal,” Poe said on Wednesday, via USA TODAY Sports. “And I just told them: I want to do this. If they had a problem with it, we were always open to sit down and talk about it. I want to explain to them what my reasoning was for this.
“Just because I felt like America in the whole wasn’t doing the right thing about stuff that was happening to the people of my color,” Poe added. “I feel like the oppression that’s being had, the racial injustice that is being had was really unfair and I feel like us as a country can do more. … I just want it to be known that I felt like it was wrong. I felt like it is wrong in the past, present, hopefully not in the future but maybe.”
In past seasons, Jones was stern about all Cowboys players standing for the national anthem. However this year, Jones changed how he felt about it, and asked fans to understand that players have issues, like racial inequality, that they need help on.
“That’s the great thing about America: Everybody has a difference,” Jones said Sept. 4 on Dallas radio station 105.3 The Fan. “If our players are there, they are sensitive to and respect what America is as it relates to the flag. I’ll assure you that. I’d hope that our fans—and I think they will—understand that our players have issues that they need help on. They need help from the majority of America.
“They need help.”
Prior to kneeling, Poe was working on addressing racial inequality. Through his Poe Man’s Dream Foundation, he organized programs for youth in Memphis and San Francisco, which included a “Shark Tank”-like competition for youth entrepreneurs.
Poe also said that he talked with police officers in Atlanta and Carolina, where he played for the Falcons and Panthers before joining the Cowboys. Recently, Poe said that he spoke with Dallas police officers at a local gas station about what’s going on in the country.
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“I have no problem with policemen if they’re doing the right things, and these guys were happy to see me,” Poe said. “So as I talked to them I said, ‘Can I ask y’all an honest question?’ From then we just talked and they told me, ‘Man, we would be more than happy to come anywhere that you would want—their police chief, their captain—to just come to talk to us and explain to us what’s going on in their particular neighborhood. It’s not all policemen, and terribly for us, it’s some. So we just want to get into their minds and I want to pick their brains.”
Poe added: “It’s a lot of stuff to be done but I’m doing as much as I can in the offseason, during the season. I started in Memphis and I will be moving it to as many places as I can to try and put my imprint on being better.”
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