Several NFL owners admitted that conversations with President Donald Trump influenced their decision on how to handle player protests during the national anthem, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The owners’s statements came when they testified during Colin Kaepernick’s collusion case, including Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
“This is a very winning, strong issue for me,” Jones said Trump told him in a phone call. “Tell everybody, you can’t win this one. This one lifts me.”
Jones was deposed in Kaepernick’s collusion case filed against the NFL in October. The former 49ers quarterback believes that the league blackballed him over his political views. Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 to protest against racial inequality.
In September, Trump spoke against player protests at an Alabama rally, saying team owners should pull players off the field if they kneeled. Trump referred to kneeling players as a “son of a bitch.”
Bob McNair, owner of the Texans, said during his despostion that he doesn’t like players kneeling but found Trump’s language inappropriate.
Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said Trump’s statement “changed the dialogue.”
“I was totally supportive of [the players] until Trump made his statement,” Ross said in his deposition.
Ross also said Patriots owner Robert Kraft had spoken about the issue with Trump and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was influenced by the president’s statement, the Journal reports.
The NFL voted on a new anthem policy last week, saying players must stand if they’re on the field during the playing of the national anthem. If they do not stand, they could be fined. The new policy allows players to choose to stay in the locker room.