Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones made it clear he is less than thrilled with Amari Cooper missing at least two games as a result of testing positive for COVID-19. During his weekly interview with Dallas 105.3 the Fan, Jones went on a lengthy rant about why it would have been advantageous to the Cowboys for Cooper to have been vaccinated.
“Again, I said it early, you check ‘me’ at the door in a football team,” Jones explained during his November 23 radio appearance. “That has nothing to do with the issues of masking, not masking, getting vaccinated, not getting vaccinated, and if I have a tone I shouldn’t. It just has nothing to do with it. The facts are it is a ‘we thing’ when you walk into the locker room and anybody is being counted on to pull his weight. Everybody expects that, they look around at each other. They understand everybody’s rights, they do, we do, everybody understands our rights and our options as it pertains to those rights.
“But can you, if you forget that it’s a we thing and how important your part is. Obviously, these guys are rewarded, they’re rewarded financially. Now, Amari Cooper is outstanding, folks. He’s one of the highest character guys that you will ever be around in any area. …Nobody is saying that he isn’t outstanding but this is a classic case of how it can impact a team when people are, at the end of the day, this is not individual, it is team. You cannot win anything individually. So, all of that are statements that I know everybody has heard ’til they’re blue in the face, but the point is that this popped us. This did pop us.”
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Prescott on Cooper: ‘That’s My Teammate, That’s My Brother’
While Jones was a bit heavy handed in his assessment of Cooper, the star receiver has received support from some of his teammates. After the Cowboys’ loss to the Chiefs, Dak Prescott made a strong statement backing Cooper and his decision to remain unvaccinated.
“Yeah, it’s unfortunate not having him [Cooper] but to [criticize] the decision he made, I mean, me [being] vaccinated I can get it and be out two games,” Prescott said of Cooper’s absence during his November 21 press conference. “So, let’s not try to knock the guy or put the guy down for a personal decision. …I pretty much would [be out], I don’t know if there’s anybody that comes back under 10 days, honestly. So, you give me that stat, and you give me the number of people that have flashed back vaccinated or unvaccinated faster than that time and test it out.
“Okay, we’ll go from there, but I mean that’s my teammate, that’s my brother. We’re going to support him. That’s his decision, as I said way back in training camp when you guys asked me this question. So, yeah unfortunately we’re not having him, but I know he’ll come back and be beneficial for us in late part of the season.”
Jones on Cooper’s Absence: ‘It Would Have Been Different Vaccinated’
Jones also praised Cooper’s character and some of his off-field work but that did not stop the Cowboys owner from being critical of his decision. He also admitted that Cooper’s hamstring injury will likely benefit from the additional time off. That said, Jones was matter-of-fact about how unvaccinated players are treated differently in the NFL, which has an impact on the entire team.
“Well, first of all, he wouldn’t have been testing had he been vaccinated,” Jones explained. “So, he didn’t have symptoms, and so he wouldn’t have been tested. So, there’s a very likelihood that being just like he is, he might have played had he been vaccinated, No. 1. No. 2, after you are tested and if you are vaccinated, you can come back quicker. It’s an automatic 10 days if you haven’t been vaccinated. It’s not automatic if you have not been vaccinated and you get the test and testing negative is important, but you have to have a couple of tests negative.
“It’s very punitive to get the COVID, to be trite, it’s very punitive to get the COVID if you’re not vaccinated in the NFL. It’s very punitive. We have a high alert for unvaccinated players in the NFL, a high alert, and in fact, it is punitive as we see if in fact you’re not vaccinated and get the COVID as opposed to being vaccinated and getting the COVID, period. We’re going through kind of a classic case of how it would have been different vaccinated.”