Did Jerry Jones just let the first Dallas Cowboys player go over National Anthem Protest?

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones promised that “if there’s anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play. OK? Understand? If we are disrespecting the flag, then we won’t play. Period.”

During last week’s game, two players — David Irving and Damontre Moore — raised their fist during the national anthem. By Wednesday, Moore was gone.

The Cowboys insist it was a football move, and the fact that Irving is still with the team shows that Jones isn’t going to follow through wholesale on his threat.

(Related: Only MLB player to kneel during Nation Anthem just arrested and here’s why)

But it sent a message to anthem protesters: If you’re expendable, protesting the anthem isn’t going to help your career prospects at all.

According to NBC Sports, Moore was released this week to make room for kicker Mike Nugent.

“We had to make a roster move and we just felt like the best decision for our team was to release Damontre Moore,” Cowboys Coach Jason Garrett said.

Moore was a marginal player at best. He has never started a game in a seven-year NFL career and was suspended for the first two games of this season. It was also reported he was involved in an altercation at a nightclub Thursday night, although he apparently was not the party that started it.

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When asked if any of these things — particularly raising his fist at the end of the national anthem — played a part in his release, Garrett said no. For his part, Jerry Jones said in his post-game news conference that he was unaware anyone had raised a fist during the anthem.

And, of course, there’s the fact that Irving raised his fist, too. But, see, Irving is a better, younger player. Someone needed to go. And that someone was the more marginal player.

The Cowboys might claim the protest had nothing to do with their decision on Moore. However, the numbers don’t lie.

(Related: NFL Stadiums nearly empty across America as anthem protest backlash continues (Photos))

Fifty-five percent of Americans think that kneeling during the national anthem is an inappropriate way to protest, compared to only 41 percent who do. The NFL’s ratings are down. A recent Fox News poll shows that the league’s favorability percentage is down 18 percent since 2013

(Related: Meatier models making a big business splash in Sports Illustrated)

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