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Fox4's Doocy ends up going it alone after refusing to accept Jones' pre-existing condition for training camp interview (updated)


Fox4 sports anchor Mike Doocy was ready for a round robin sit-down with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones at the team’s Oxnard, CA training camp. But he wouldn’t sit still for a ban on questions about the National Anthem policy. So Jones walked off. Fox4 photo

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Veteran Fox4 anchor Mike Doocy took a stand Sunday night, and ended up empty-handed while competitors at NBC5, TEGNA8 and CBS11 got their one-on-one sit-downs with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones at the team’s training camp in Oxnard, CA.

The sticking point: Doocy said he was told “at the last second” that any questions about the NFL’s or Joneses’ National Anthem policy were off limits. So Doocy said, “No thanks” before Jones can be seen saying on-camera, “If you don’t want me to sit in this chair I won’t sit in this chair.”

After an awkward pause, Doocy said, “OK, all right” and Jones replied “That’s good” as he walked off.

All owners reportedly are being muzzled by the NFL, which has an official policy that in part is at odds with Joneses.’ The league says players can stay in the locker room during the playing of the Anthem, but cannot kneel on the field in view of stadium fans and television audiences. Jones flatly has said that all Cowboys players will be on the field and standing. His position has stirred up a new national debate -- in some quarters. And Jones has yet to address that.

Doocy later explained himself to viewers after noting that this is his 25th Cowboys training camp, and that he’s had no previous problems with Jones.

“In some ways I’m violating my own policy here,” Doocy said. “I’ve always felt it’s better even if there are conditions put on an interview to talk to the newsmaker and get some information out of them that would be of value to our viewers and our audience. So if I let you down in this regard, I do apologize. I just couldn’t accept the way it happened in this particular case.”

NBC5’s Pat Doney, TEGNA8’s Dale Hansen and CBS11’s Bill Jones all accepted the pre-conditions and did their interviews with Jones, who wore the same light blue sport coat as he journeyed from deck chair to deck chair to talk with them.

Doocy, in a reply Monday to unclebarky.com, said he was “first in line” for the Jones interview with a 9:30 p.m. Dallas time taping. So his competitors all had ample time to reconsider in the interests of solidarity with Doocy or ethical considerations in times when journalists increasingly are being favored or shut out altogether based on whether they “offend” someone with otherwise solid reporting or questioning.

Since his incident with Jones, “I’ve heard nothing but support from station management and dozens in the media,” Doocy said. “Means the world to me. This wasn’t an ‘anthem’ issue. It was a timing issue, and learning at the last moment what would be off-limits. Cowboys made a call. I made a call. It happens. Not positive my move was the right one (but) I’d probably do it again. Hope I don’t have to.”

Among the three D-FW anchors who did play ball, Doney by far had the briefest chat, in terms of what’s posted to date on NBC5’s website. Bill Jones talked at length with Jerry Jones, passingly referencing quarterback Dak Prescott’s earlier answer to the Anthem question but never asking directly about it. His was the chummiest of the three sit-downs.

Doney, in a reply sent early Monday evening, said that “when the Cowboys informed me the NFL had asked all of its owners to not comment about the Anthem as it sorts out its policy with the NFLPA (NFL Players Association), our team felt there were enough other important topics to discuss with Jerry Jones to abide by that request -- but only after I disclosed those restrictions at the beginning of our live interview.”

CBS11’s Jones later said he has “nothing really to add other than to point out what we said on the air prior to the interview -- that we were informed by the Cowboys that the NFL instructed teams that they can’t comment on the Anthem issue at this time.”

Hansen came closest to having it both ways. His interview, also now posted on WFAA’s website, includes a tag that reads, “The topic of the National Anthem was off limits at the request of the NFL -- or at least that’s what the Cowboys PR team told us. But Jerry faced other tough questions from WFAA’s Dale Hansen.”

He never brought up the Anthem, but did pointedly ask Jones about the Papa John’s pizza controversy and drugs in the NFL. And in closing comments to viewers, Hansen said, “I wasn’t happy about that (the restriction on questioning), but I do like sitting down talking with Jerry Jones.”

In a separate reply Monday to unclebarky.com, Hansen said, “I’m with Mike, too. I thought about it but decided I would go the way I did. It (would have) left a huge hole in the show and I just didn’t want to do that. But it’s typical Doocy. Always making it about him. I hate sportscasters who do that. Hahahaha.”

But Hansen said he seriously does support Doocy, who “deserves any praise he’s getting. And we are still thinking and talking about the decision.”

Hansen’s Monday morning mini-commentary on TEGNA8’s Daybreak ripped Jones for his inflexible Anthem policy and then chided him for keeping his cap on -- even after prodding -- during the playing of the Anthem at the Cowboys’ camp.

We can only imagine what the reaction would have been had all four D-FW television stations joined Doocy in declining Jones’ annual training camp one-on-ones. Would the Cowboys owner have walked away from all of them -- or reached some sort of compromise? In this view, Jones doesn’t have to answer any question on anything. But an eleventh hour pre-existing condition tied to any interview at all is something Doocy couldn’t swallow while his three main competitors all decided to choke it down.

Jones could have made it easier on himself -- and certainly Doocy -- by agreeing to take the Anthem question and then responding, “I can’t comment on that any further due to NFL restrictions.” In its own way, that says a lot -- and viewers were entitled to hear it directly from his own seldom closed mouth.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net