Jerry Jones says Monday's team trip to the National Museum of African American History and Culture was not a P.R. stunt to ingratiate him with black fans ... it was the players who pushed for the visit.
TMZ Sports spoke with the Dallas Cowboys owner outside the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. -- where JJ was flanked by a team of armed guards -- and asked about the criticism he's been receiving online.
Here's the breakdown ... after the team announced the trip, there was an immediate backlash from people who called it a "PR gesture. Nothing more" to help Jerry -- who's been one of Colin Kaepernick's most vocal critics.
So, kudos to our camera guy who asked Jerry directly if it was a publicity stunt -- and this is how Jones responded.
"Well, I don’t think that the case. This is a player effort and our players wanted to do this. It’s their great idea and we sure wanted to do it and be a part of it."
Jones also raved about how much he loves D.C. -- saying the city "Makes ya proud to be a part of America."
He added, "Just to be here it’s always fabulous to get to come up here. To play Washington and get to just be reminded of what a great nation this is."
We also asked if the team was still considering bringing back Dez Bryant.
Jerry shot that down -- and defended his current WRs.
We also spoke with head coach Jason Garrett about how he plans to get the team back in the W column and why the trip to the African American Museum was important to him.