Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is facing a possible fine from the league after his Halloween costume sparked controversy: an NFL referee implied to be blind.
During Halloween weekend, a photo emerged of the 80-year-old wearing a black and white striped shirt and large reflective sunglasses, along with a cane. Once the costume made its way onto social media, many people were shocked by Jones’ costume decision, including the NFL.
Following the incident, many argued that Jones’ actions go against the NFL’s rules against, “comments regarding the quality of officiating, individual calls or missed calls, the league’s officiating department, an officiating crew or an individual game official accusing game officials of acting with bias or in any way questioning the integrity of NFL game officials; or posting negative or derogatory/demeaning content pertaining to officiating on social media.”
National Federation of the Blind Director of Public Relations Chris Danielsen even publicly critiqued the Dallas Cowboys owner during an interview with media outlet PEOPLE, saying that the costume, “plays on the stereotype that blind people are generally incompetent because of our lack of eyesight.”
“That general stereotype, in turn, limits our opportunities for employment and for participation in society,” he continued. “This is not just an issue of a perceived problem; statistics routinely verify that blind people have an unemployment rate of between 60 and 70%. This is not because we are unemployable, but because too many employers still internalize low expectations and stereotypes about us.”
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Chris Danielsen encourages Jerry Jones to reflect on his Halloween costume choice
In addition to PEOPLE, Danielsen also spoke to TMZ about Jones’ costume choice. Pointing out that there are plenty of Cowboys fans that happen to be blind, the Blind Director representative said the franchise owner should be more aware of how his actions affect other individuals.
“He does have blind Cowboys fans,” Danielsen told the media. “They show up at games and put on headsets or listen on the radio. It may be something for him to think about.”
After the controversy reached multiple pockets of the internet, Jones spoke to Sports Illustrated about his Halloween choices. During his conversation with the reporter, he admitted the backlash confused him.
“I’m being very careful here because I’m getting real close to a fine. It shows how much I love them to dress up as them … how much I respect their decision-making,” he said. “I had the cane and everything. And I used it on some people, too.”
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