Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones walked a thin line Tuesday on the unvaccinated status of receiver Amari Cooper and how it impacted his team in a 19-9 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday in which the team's offense sputtered.
Cooper tested positive for COVID-19 last week and was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Friday. Under NFL protocols requiring a 10-day quarantine for unvaccinated players, the receiver missed the Chiefs game and will miss Thursday's game against the Las Vegas Raiders. In his weekly radio appearance on 105.3 The Fan, Jones praised Cooper for his character while mincing no words about what Cooper's absence meant.
"Amari Cooper is outstanding. He's one of the highest-character guys that you will ever be around in any area. He's outstanding in his introspect and how he does things," Jones said. "Nobody is saying he isn't outstanding, but this is a classic case of how it can impact a team. At the end of the day, this is team. You cannot win anything individually. ... The point is, it popped us. This did pop us."
Jones said Cooper likely would've been able to play against the Chiefs had he been vaccinated. Asked directly if he was disappointed in Cooper, Jones said, "If I have a tone, I shouldn't. (But) the facts are, it is a 'we' thing when you walk into the locker room. And anybody is being counted on to pull his weight. Everybody expects that. They look around at each other. They understand their rights. They do, we do. Everybody understands our rights, and our options as it pertains to those rights."
Cooper is the team's second-leading receiver (44 catches, 583 yards, five TDs) behind CeeDee Lamb, who is currently in concussion protocol. If cleared through COVID-19 protocols, Cooper would be eligible to return to the Cowboys lineup for a Week 13 Thursday night road game against the New Orleans Saints. The Cowboys offense will carry on without him at least until then, but Jones did point out one silver lining -- Cooper's absence gives him a better opportunity to heal from a hamstring injury that has hampered the former first-round draft pick.
"He's getting a two-week rest on that ham," Jones said, "so that's something positive."