Cowboys’ place-kicker Dan Bailey injured his groin Sunday, and to make room for a temporary replacement, the Cowboys needed to release another player. Their decision to cut Damontre Moore, Dallas Coach Jason Garrett said Wednesday, had nothing to do with the defensive end’s protests during the national anthem.
Moore and defensive tackle David Irving have been the only Dallas players to protest. Neither knelt or sat, but both had taken to staging brief demonstrations while standing as pregame renditions of “The Star-Spangled Banner” ended. The timing appeared to be an effort to skirt an edict from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who said earlier this month that any players of his seen “disrespecting the flag” would be benched.
“We cannot in the NFL, in any way, give the implication that we tolerate disrespecting the flag,” Jones said. “We cannot do that.”
Moore had been raising his fist as the anthem concluded, but he changed that to a salute before Sunday’s game against the 49ers. After promising to “do something,” Irving held a fist over his heart during the anthem, then quickly raised it afterward.
Both players have said that they do not mean any disrespect to the flag, military members or anyone else. “It’s just something that I do,” Moore said earlier this month. “I’ve got my morals. I’ve got my values and my things that I think about. I don’t want to cause no attention to nobody else and bring unwanted attention, but on the same token, you know, there’s certain things that people are doing it for.”
On Wednesday, Garrett told reporters (via Pro Football Talk), “We had to make a roster move and we just felt like the best decision for our team was to release Damontre Moore.” Asked if the player’s protests or an altercation in which he reportedly was involved last week at a nightclub had anything to do with the move, Garrett replied, “No.”
A native of Dallas County and a product of Texas A&M, Moore was in his fifth NFL season and first with the Cowboys. He missed the first two games of the season because of a league-mandated suspension following a DWI arrest in December, but he was a member of the Seahawks at the time and Dallas signed him as a free agent with the awareness that a punishment might be coming.
Irving served a four-game suspension to start the season, after violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, but he has made an immediate impact as a pass-rusher with three sacks in two games. To take Bailey’s place, the Cowboys signed veteran Mike Nugent.