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By W. Gardner Selby September 1, 2016

James Woods says Dallas Cowboys can't honor dead officers with helmet decals

After San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick didn’t stand during the playing of the national anthem before a game, actor James Woods chided the NFL over a decal that hasn’t been approved for Dallas Cowboys helmets.

On Aug. 27, 2016, Woods tweeted: "Kaepernick doesn’t stand for the national anthem, Rams players can walk onto the field with their hands up for the ‘hands up, don’t shoot,’ and other players can wear t-shirts saying I can’t breathe. But the Dallas Cowboys can’t put a sticker on their helmets for the 5 police officers who were killed. Way to go NFL…."

We wondered if the actor stuck to the facts.

Woods posted his tweet after Kaepernick didn’t join others standing during the anthem before his team’s Aug. 26, 2016, preseason game against the Green Bay Packers. Afterward, Kaepernick said: "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

Woods otherwise referred to five Rams players raising their arms in support of protests in Ferguson, Mo., during player introductions before a Nov. 30, 2014, game. The NFL didn’t discipline the players; spokesman Brian McCarthy told CNN: "We respect and understand the concerns of all individuals who have expressed views on this tragic situation."

And the decal? After the July 7, 2016, shooting deaths of five Dallas police officers, the Dallas Morning News reported, Cowboys officials led by tight end Jason Witten honored surviving family members at the Cowboys training camp in Oxnard, Calif., in part with players entering the field arm in arm with officers.

The newspaper said in a July 30, 2016, news story: "The idea to come out arm-in-arm belonged to Witten. So did the idea to wear a patch on their helmets in this camp that reads Arm in Arm. The Cowboys have asked the NFL if they can wear that patch on their helmets this season. Discussions are ongoing."

Eleven days later, Stephen Jones, the team’s executive vice president, told reporters that NFL officials had told the Cowboys that players couldn’t wear the Arm in Arm decal during preseason or regular-season games--though the decals could remain on helmets during training camp practices, according to an Aug. 11, 2016, News story, which said the Cowboys had placed the decal on the back of each helmet after the ceremony initiated by Witten.

Jones said then: "Everyone has to be uniform with the league and the other 31 teams. We respect their decision."

We spotted Section 4, Article 1 of the league rules stating: "All visible items worn on game day by players must be issued by the club or the League, or, if from outside sources, must have approval in advance by the League office."

More directly, Section 8 of the rules states that on game days, items "to celebrate anniversaries or memorable events, or to honor or commemorate individuals, such as helmet decals, and arm bands and jersey patches on players’ uniforms, are prohibited unless approved in advance by the League office." (The rules also bar any "detachable kicking toe." Now you know.)

And what is allowed?

"All such items approved by the League office, if any, must relate to team or League events or personages," the rule says. "The League will not grant permission for any club or player to wear, display, or otherwise convey messages, through helmet decals, arm bands, jersey patches, or other items affixed to game uniforms or equipment, which relate to political activities or causes, other non-football events, causes or campaigns, or charitable causes or campaigns. Further, any such approved items must be modest in size, tasteful, non-commercial, and non-controversial; must not be worn for more than one football season; and if approved for use by a specific team, must not be worn by players on other teams in the League."

We asked Rich Dalrymple, a Cowboys spokesman, about Woods’ tweet. He didn’t speak to its accuracy other than to share news stories on the decal’s debut and the league decision not to allow the decals to be worn during games. Dalrymple said the request and denial occurred by telephone.

Before our clock ran out, our attempts to query the NFL about the decals and Woods’ tweet didn’t draw a whistle--or any response.

Our ruling

In a tweet, Woods said the "Dallas Cowboys can’t put a sticker on their helmets for the 5 police officers who were killed."

NFL rules give the league control over decals on helmets which must relate to team or league "events or personages." This limit likely explains the league’s disapproval of the decals honoring the felled officers.

We rate this claim True.

TRUE – The statement is accurate and there’s nothing significant missing. Click here for more on the six PolitiFact ratings and how we select facts to check.

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James Woods says Dallas Cowboys can't honor dead officers with helmet decals

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