sportsCowboys

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott on Jerry Jones’ Little Rock photo: ‘I believe in grace and change’

Facing the difficult subject of race, Prescott focused on growth while detailing how he felt about LeBron James’ recent comments.

FRISCO — Dak Prescott spoke of grace, accountability and the capacity for change.

It was a more charitable conversation than ones taking place in certain corners of the internet at the moment.

The photo of a teenage Jerry Jones on the steps of his Arkansas high school while six Black students were denied entry recently surfaced. Jones has said his presence that day more than 65 years ago was driven by curiosity, not prejudice or animosity toward the students who were trying to enroll.

LeBron James, unprompted, referred to that photo late Wednesday evening after a win over Portland. The LA Lakers star wondered why the discussion regarding that scene and Jones’ role had died so quickly, suggesting the media’s idea of what remains a part of the public discourse when it comes to race is applied disproportionally based on skin color.

Prescott was asked to wade into these turbulent waters after Thursday’s practice.

“Obviously, we can be more empathetic and give grace to one another,’’ the Cowboys quarterback said. “Regardless of race, from the times we’ve come from to where we are now, thinking about the growth we’ve had…

“That’s who I am. That’s how I think. Optimistic.’’

Prescott is biracial. He believes that makes it easier for him to talk about race from both sides than some. But in a response that lasted nearly two minutes, he paused at one point to find the right words.

“I don’t know if I’ve fully processed it all the way, honestly,’’ Prescott said of the photo. “I think whether LeBron is talking about the picture, I think that’s on Jerry to address, right? And since it was 65 years ago…

“I mean, look at the man’s resume since then, right?’’

Defiant white students at Arkansas' North Little Rock High School block the doors of the...
Defiant white students at Arkansas' North Little Rock High School block the doors of the school, denying access to six African-American students enrolled in the school Sept. 9, 1957. Moments later the African American students were shoved down a flight of stairs and onto the sidewalk, where city police broke up the altercation. (AP Photo/William P. Straeter)(William P. Straeter / ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The photo from that September day in 1957 accompanied a Washington Post story that explored how Jones, as owner of the Cowboys, has helped transform the NFL in many ways but has been largely absent on the issue of race. Jones sat with reporters from the publication for two-and-a-half hours and has answered questions from local media since the story ran last week.

And James? Before concluding an interview session after the game with the Trail Blazers, he told reporters he was disappointed in them for not asking about Jones and the photo. He pointed out he got plenty of questions about his friend and former teammate, Kyrie Irving, after the Brooklyn Nets guard shared a link to a documentary containing anti-Semitic tropes on social media.

James went on to say that as a Black man and Black athlete, he feels the media dwells on these episodes longer if a person of color is at the center of the storm.

“It seems like to me,’’ James said, “that the whole Jerry Jones situation, photo — I know it was years and years ago and we all make mistakes, I get it — but it seems like it’s just been buried under, like, ‘Oh, it happened. OK, we just move on.’ "

James, a lifelong Cowboys fan, revealed in October that he stopped rooting for the team due to the insistence of Jones that his players stand during the national anthem. Before then, he had watched games at AT&T Stadium at the invitation of the Jones family, taken photos with the Cowboys owner and bragged that Jones offered him a football contract to play for the club during the NBA lockout in 2011.

“Unfortunate things come up from the past,’’ Prescott said. “Pictures show how far we’ve come but in the same sense, they’re a reminder of how short of a time that was ago in the same sense. It wasn’t that long ago that we were all sitting on different sides and we weren’t together.

“But as I said, I wouldn’t be here if it was still that way.’’

And what about the contention that media attention and interest varies based on skin color, that it was more forgiving when it came to Jones than Irving?

“Like I said, I give grace.’’ Prescott said. “I think that’s a conversation and a question not only for him, but for you guys [media] and how you feel how accountable you’ve been in covering and discussing the disparities and differences in race.

“So, yeah, I’m here for growth and giving grace and trying to make this world a better place. That’s who I am at my core and all I believe in.’’

Focusing on these stories make some fans upset or uncomfortable. They want to stick to sports and stay between the lines.

The counterpoint: If the media can produce endless reports about the possible landing spot of Odell Beckham Jr., why can’t it spend time on the more significant issue of race when it involves members of the sports world?

“I believe in grace and change,’’ Prescott repeated. “Those are questions for Jerry and for you all [media], honestly, that I don’t quite have the answers for.’’

Jones has long viewed sports as an escape from the intrusion of the real world. He believes that’s one of its prime appeal to fans.

But the photo of Jones on those steps at a seminal moment in our country’s history will be difficult for the Cowboys owner to escape in today’s climate. It can be dropped or referenced by anyone at any moment looking to score political or righteous points.

James has made that clear.

Catch David Moore and Robert Wilonsky as they co-host Intentional Grounding on The Ticket (KTCK-AM 1310 and 96.7 FM) every Wednesday at 7 p.m. during the Cowboys season.

Twitter: @DavidMooreDMN

Related Stories
View More

Find more Cowboys coverage from The Dallas Morning News here.

Cowboys Catch-Up

Cowboys

Be the smartest Cowboys fan. Get the latest news.

By signing up you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy