After a chaotic weekend of NFL teams struggling to respond with one voice to the criticisms directed at the league by President Trump, Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys seemed to have found a solution.
Before Monday Night’s game in Phoenix against the Arizona Cardinals, Cowboys players and staff, including the owner, lined up across the field before the national anthem and took a knee briefly. The Cowboys then stood in unison to link arms for Jordin Sparks’ rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
The Cardinals also stood, arms linked, for the anthem.
No players on either team were shown sitting or kneeling on the ESPN cameras, something of a surprise after a weekend of games across the league in which by some accounts more than 200 players sat or knelt in a rebuke of President Trump.
The president said Friday during a stump speech in Alabama that kneeling during the anthem is disrespectful and unpatrioti — and urged NFL owners to fire players who protest during the song’s performance.
Anthem protests began in earnest last season with former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who sat and took a knee, he said, to protest police treatment of minorities across the country.
For many players in the predominantly black NFL, the president’s rebuke smacked of racism, and some teams responded Sunday by staying in the locker room during the anthem, while other teams took the field, where some players knelt, others sat and still others stood during the anthem.
In Pittsburgh, offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva, an Army veteran, stood alone outside his team’s tunnel, hand over heart, while the rest of his squad was inside.
Before Monday night’s game, Jones and coach Jason Garrett had made it clear they did not want to see Dallas players protesting during the anthem.
But Cowboys writers on Monday reported that players had petitioned Jones to compromise and allow players to weigh in — like hundreds of their colleagues in the league — against the Trump comments.