Cowboys’ Jerry Jones ‘blind referee’ costume perpetuates ‘harmful’ stereotypes, organization says
A national organization representing the blind community called out Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones over his “blind referee” costume, arguing that costumes like his further “perpetuates” stereotypes that the blind are “incompetent.”
The National Federation of the Blind director Chris Danielsen told TMZ Sports on Thursday that Jones’ costume, meant to poke fun at the NFL and its officials, is “harmful” to the blind community, and seemingly singles out Dallas fans who are visually impaired.
“He does have blind Cowboys fans,” Danielsen told the outlet. “They show up at games and put on headsets or listen on the radio. It may be something for him to think about.”
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Danielsen noted that 70% of the blind are unemployed and called the decision by Jones and others to wear costumes mocking them pushes the stereotype forward that the blind are “incompetent.”
“When anyone perpetuates that stereotype, it's harmful,” he said.
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Jones was seen dressed as a referee with sunglasses and a guide cane in an image posted to his niece’s social media account.
“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,” Jones told Sports Illustrated. “I had the cane and everything. And I used it on some people, too.”
The decision to take a subtle jab at game officials could prove costly for Jones, however.
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According to a league memo from 2019, the NFL forbids “comments regarding the quality of officiating, individual calls or missed calls, the League’s officiating department, an officiating crew, or an individual game official; [a]ccusing game officials of acting with bias or in any way questioning the integrity of NFL game officials; or [p]osting negative or derogatory/demeaning content pertaining to officiating on social media.”
The league has not yet commented on if the NFL team owner will face discipline over his choice in costume.
Fox News’ Chantz Martin contributed to this report.