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There's teenaged Jerry Jones in front of Arkansas's North Little Rock High, standing among a crowd of white students blocking the doors from six black students trying to desegregate the school, captured in 1957, courtesy of William P. Straeter's photograph for the Associated Press. The man might be 80 now, but that's his face all right.

The big news in the Washington Post article, written by David Maraniss and Sally Jenkins and published the day before the Dallas Cowboys' Thanksgiving game, wasn't that Jones was in this crowd or that he addressed it for the first time. The Cowboys owner had talked about being there in a 2010 interview, though it's fair to say it wasn't as widely known. The article used the photo as part of a larger argument: While Jones says he was in that crowd only out of curiosity—a defense that doesn't really hold up when reviewing where he had to walk to get in front of those six black students—the way he has lived his life afterward doesn't indicate that he's done anything within his power to help advance minority coaches in the NFL. Since he bought the team in 1989, the Cowboys have never had a black head coach.

The piece is part of "Black Out," an ongoing series by the Post on the slim numbers of black head coaches in the NFL. The Cowboys are one of a number of teams that have never had a black non-interim head coach. It is true, as Maraniss and Jenkins write, that if Jones wanted to push the NFL into hiring more minority head coaches, the league would follow his lead. While there are 32 owners, his voice is more influential than the rest. I understand that this has to be framed within a larger package of stories about the topic, but is that the significant takeaway here?

This might seem like a trivial conclusion, but framed another way, perhaps the news becomes more compelling and alarming: The most powerful owner in the biggest pro football league in the world hung out with segregationists as a teen and hasn't drastically changed how he operates in the years since. He offers to help black people who in turn can help him make more money. When the Post asked him about the photo, Jones used a slur for black people, describing himself as "looking like a little burrhead."

Jones did address the article after the Cowboys beat the Giants on Thanksgiving. "I didn't know at the time the monumental event really that was going on," he said, via ESPN. "I'm sure glad that we're a long way from that. I am. That would remind me [to] just continue to do everything we can to not have those kinds of things happen."

There were plenty of reactions to the photo, but one variant of it was best illustrated by ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith: It's impolite to bring up old shit. (Especially when it involves someone who has been nice to Stephen A. Smith.) Smith believes what happened when Jones was 14 years old was so long ago that it doesn't bear holding against him, but it really couldn't have been that long ago if Jones is still alive to address it. This feels wildly different than an athlete's old bad tweet.

Maybe the subdued reaction can be attributed to cronyism, as well as the article's release right before a holiday weekend, but is it not a little alarming that the Cowboys owner was in segregationist chat rooms showing teeth? It's not world-shaking news that an 80-year-old who grew up in Arkansas could have been racist, as some have joked, but that's an oversimplification of what's being presented here.

Because I'm aware of my job title and what I'm doing right this second, I'm not asking why the media won't talk about the Jerry Jones photo. When LeBron James asked the press on Thursday why no one had asked him so many questions about Kyrie Irving yet none about Jones, I had a split reaction: It makes total sense that LeBron would be asked more about his former teammate in a sport they both play, but he is also in that tier of athlete who will be asked about anything at any time, and it is relevant given that in October he mentioned he was a lapsed Cowboys fan. James's reason for no longer supporting the NFL team was because of how Jones said he would require all his players to stand for the national anthem at a time when players all over the league were kneeling.

It doesn't seem like anything will happen to Jones. The current standard for pro sports owner banishment is multiple offenses as set by Robert Sarver, and even that still hasn't officially happened. Being involved with an action to stop integration is something that will be explained as a childish error. There doesn't appear to be any frustration within the Cowboys' locker room—quarterback Dak Prescott talked about giving grace and redirected the questions back to Jones—and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell isn't going to take on the owner with the most clout over this. It'll be considered an opportunity for growth. Those with the power to do anything will let it pass, and those who are angriest don't have the power to do anything.

Jerry Jones will continue to reap the benefits that come with being a wealthy old man with an NFL team. The question of how much he's evolved as a human being since taking part in a segregationist action as a teenager is not one anyone can really answer without being able to look into Jones's soul, but it's relatively easy to figure out if anything's changed about how he chooses to place himself within broader society. Segregation persists, though it's not through white crowds blocking school doors. It lives on in subtler ways that are harder to uproot, protected by explanations about merit or qualifications. For just one example: a pro football team's owner continually finding reasons to pass over black candidates for a head coaching position.

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