Jerry Jones didn’t hesitate to share his thoughts at the beginning of training camp, and now former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper is responding.
In the opening press conference of training camp, Jones spoke about “half-a** availability” in the context of Cooper, DE Randy Gregory and LT La’el Collins departing the team. In Cooper’s specific case, the comments appeared to be targeted at his refusal to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
Jones said he wasn’t trying to “demean” anyone, but it became fairly clear how he felt about Cooper refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine and missing time because of it.
Later in the week, Cooper was asked about the comments and said he hadn’t initially seen them, per Cleveland.com. But the WR then had a solo conversation with the outlet and spoke on the issue.
“I wouldn’t say it was me marching to my own drum,” Cooper explained. “At the end of the day, I do understand that football is a team sport. But it was such an unprecedented type of moment in the NFL’s history for the decision to be made about putting something that not many people — not anybody knew — the effects of it, into your body.”
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Jones’ Original Comment
On July 26, Jones, head coach Mike McCarthy and VP Stephen Jones addressed the media to start training camp. Before any questions were asked of the owner, Jones was already firing off takes about Dallas.
He addressed rumors related to the Cowboys moving on from McCarthy and also hit the big three departures of the offseason. Here is a large portion of the quote directed at Cooper:
“…But more important than anything is these decisions that we made, I made, relative to top players not being here had everything to do with their availability and my concern about their availability,” Jones said. “For instance, you could have the exact same player, and if you were paying him one thing, about 10-15% of what you’re looking at paying him, then you can do that all day long. And you can have half-a** availability, when you’re paying him 10-15%.”
Cooper is the free agent who was making the most of that trio, with the Cowboys initially on the hook for $20 million this season. But with a dip in production and missed games due to COVID-19 in 2021, Dallas dealt him to Cleveland and moved onward.
Cooper Understands Criticism
Besides explaining his vaccination status, Cooper also addressed criticism on a broader level in the recent interview. The former Alabama Crimson Tide star relates to the situation to freedom of speech.
“It’s like freedom of speech,” Cooper said to Cleveland.com. “You have the freedom to say whatever you want, but it doesn’t mean you won’t be scrutinized or talked badly about for expressing those thoughts.”
It’s an understanding attitude from the NFL veteran, but it has obviously still been a source of tension and friction over the past two seasons.
Now, Cooper gets a fresh start with the Browns while the Cowboys look to CeeDee Lamb and others step up in his place.