In his tweet, Jones said, “Man ain’t suppose to be with a man. A women is not suppose to be with another women.”
The Edmonton Eskimos addressed the tweet directly on Sunday afternoon, announcing that Jones was being released from the team.
Jones’ tweet, which was also followed by others where he defended his initial thought, led to backlash from local advocates.
He deleted the tweet Sunday afternoon and posted an apology.
Janis Irwin, NDP MLA for Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood, who is also a gay rights activist, had responded to him on Twitter late Saturday evening.
“I’m so proud to represent this community, but you need to know we are kind and we are welcoming. We challenge racism. We challenge homophobia.
“Your comments hurt.”
Jones’ comments also come during Pride month in Alberta.
Global News spoke to Irwin on Sunday morning, who said she was shocked when she saw the message Jones was sending.
“The reality is, if you’re a young person — perhaps a young football fan who’s struggling with your sexuality — and you see something like that, that can be very damaging,” Irwin said.
“He’s sending the message that being gay, being queer, is wrong. It’s Pride Month right now. This is a time when we should be talking about how it’s OK to love whoever you love.
“Edmonton is a kind, loving city. Those sorts of beliefs just don’t work here.”
As of Sunday morning, Jones had not initially deleted his tweet and had defended it in a series of follow-up tweets, including one directly responding to Irwin.
“I exposed my Opinion (sic) to everyone. You want me fired? I thought being diverse gave me an opportunity to feel how I feel and express myself,” he said in another tweet.
“Won’t be changing how I feel any time soon,” Jones said.
Dr. Kristopher Wells, the Canada research chair of the Public Understanding of Sexual and Gender Minority Youth at Edmonton’s MacEwan University, said Sunday that the fact Jones defended his initial tweet is troubling.
“These kinds of comments are often what we label as casual homophobia, but they have real impact.
“We know the research tells us that many LGBTQ youth drop out of organized team sports at early ages because they don’t feel safe, they don’t see themselves in the athletes that are playing the game.”
Irwin said that she hopes Jones takes this as an opportunity to grow.
“A lot of folks are calling for him to be fired immediately,” Irwin said. “I’m not sure if that’s the way it needs to be. I would rather take this as a learning opportunity. I’m open to meeting with him and talking with him.”
Wells said that organizations need to respond in cases like this.
“Given the gravity of this — in this case, this player is not at all to be accepting responsibility for their actions, is not apologizing for the hurt and damage caused by these tweets, which really speaks to a larger problem.
“What kind of education are these players receiving from the league? The league can have great policies, but when behaviours like this happen, it shows they’re not effective,” Wells said.
The CFL released a statement Sunday on behalf of commissioner Randy Ambrosie.
“We in the CFL hold high the Diversity Is Strength banner. Our league makes no claim on perfection but it does strive to be inclusive, to accept and indeed celebrate our differences, and to respect and honour human rights,” the statement read.
“There is no place in our league for commentary that disparages people on the basis of their religion, race, gender or sexual orientation.
“As Pride Month continues, we stand with the LGBTQ+ community. We all need to say no to hate and yes to love,” Ambrosie said.
Jones was signed on a contract extension with the Eskimos in early January, after being traded to the Eskimos last August from the Saskatchewan Roughriders for receiver Kenny Stafford.
He is an American player originally from Adamsville, Alabama.