Jerry Jones is facing a possible fine for his Halloween costume, after the Dallas Cowboys owner dressed up as an NFL referee who is implied to be blind.
Jones, 80, was photographed in the costume over the weekend, which included a black and white striped shirt and large reflective sunglasses, along with a cane. The picture then made its way onto social media.
National Federation of the Blind Director of Public Relations Chris Danielsen told PEOPLE on Thursday that the costume “plays on the stereotype that blind people are generally incompetent because of our lack of eyesight.”
Added Danielsen, “That general stereotype, in turn, limits our opportunities for employment and for participation in society. 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.”
When talking to TMZ, Danielsen said Jones should be more thoughtful since there are supporters of his team who are blind. “He does have blind Cowboys fans,” Danielsen told TMZ. “They show up at games and put on headsets or listen on the radio. It may be something for him to think about.”
Speaking with Sports Illustrated about the costume choice, Jones said Tuesday, “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. I had the cane and everything. And I used it on some people, too.”
Tongue in cheek or not, the NFL has specific rules, as cited by the Entrepreneur, concerning criticisms of refs from within the league. A 2019 memo stated in part that “posting negative or derogatory/demeaning content pertaining to officiating on social media” was not acceptable.
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A representative for the NFL declined comment to PEOPLE on the situation.