GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has been a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, so the speculation was that he would not allow his players to kneel during the national anthem.
The Cowboys and their owner did kneel, though not during the anthem.
Following a weekend of kneeling and protesting across the NFL, the Cowboys and their owner displayed their own version of unity Monday night, kneeling on the field before rising as a group prior to the playing of the national anthem.
“I hope that I’m clear and I hope that our team is clear: We want to respect the flag. Make no mistake about that,” Jones said.
“Nothing that we’ve done, nothing that we did tonight says anything other than that. We also want to as a complete team, as players and an organization, be able to, whenever we can, demonstrate that unity is important and equality is important.
“That’s what I’m so proud of these guys for, they did both and did it in a way when people really stop and think about it, makes a lot of sense.”
The Cowboys sat and watched the protests across the NFL on Sunday and spent most of Monday discussing the best way to show unity without denigrating the flag.
After warmups Monday night, they went into the locker room and returned to the field for the anthem, lining up between the sideline and the yard markers on the field.
Arm-in-arm, they dropped to a knee as a giant flag was carried onto the field, with Jones and his family in the middle near the 50-yard line.
Numerous boos rang out across University of Phoenix Stadium as the Cowboys kneeled and continued as the players rose, still arm-in-arm, and stepped back to the sideline as the flag was unfurled across the field. They remained connected as Jordin Sparks sang the national anthem.
“The objectives, as much as anything else, was to somehow, some way demonstrate unity and demonstrate equality, and do so without any way involving the American flag and the national anthem,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said.
The Arizona Cardinals had their own symbol of unity after a weekend of protests in the NFL, gathering along the goal line arm-in-arm during the national anthem. They were joined by owner Michael Bidwell, his family and general manager Steve Keim.
More than 200 NFL players kneeled, sat or prayed during the national anthem on Sunday after President Trump said any player who does not stand for the national anthem should be fired.
Three teams did not take the field for the national anthem and numerous NFL owners came out against Trump’s statements.