Like hundreds of athletes and dozens of team owners did the day before, players from the Dallas Cowboys and the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night forcefully responded to President Donald Trump’s call to boycott or fire athletes who kneel during the national anthem to protest racial injustice.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, one of the biggest names in football, joined his players on the field during the popular Monday night game to kneel in unison ahead of the national anthem.
The team’s move was a variation on the numerous protests the day before, when players had taken a knee following the example of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaerpernick, locked arms in solidarity or stayed away from the field during the rendering of the anthem.
For their part, Cardinals players took a page from several teams on Sunday by linking arms while the anthem played.
The actions Monday night were the latest display since President Donald Trump went off topic during a campaign rally in Alabama on Friday night to condemn a protest movement started last year by former San Fransisco 49ers quarterback Kaepernick to protest racial injustices still prevalent in the United States.
Trump on Friday called for team owners to fire those “sons of bitches” who kneel during the national anthem to raise awareness about the issue and called the protests “a total disrespect of our heritage.”
Teams joined in the “take the knee” protest on Sunday to express solidarity with their colleagues and to condemn what they saw as the president’s move to sow division among players and fans.
The first protest occurred Sunday morning in London, and even included the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Shahid Khan. He linked arms with his players — several of whom were kneeling during the anthem — despite having donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee.
This theme continued throughout the day, while most teams exhibited some form of protest by either kneeling or linking arms. The Pittsburgh Steelers, however, chose to stay in the locker room during the anthem.
Jerry Jones’ decision to join his players on the field on Monday was surprising, given his previous commentary on the protest.
“I do not think the place to express yourself in society is as we recognize the American flag,” Jones told Fox Business last week. “So that’s not the place to do anything other than honor the flag and everybody that’s given up a little bit for it.”
Kneeling has been a controversial issue among fans, as many feel that protesting during the anthem is disrespectful.
The Cowboys’ plan to kneel was reportedly made shortly before the game. ESPN sideline reporter Lisa Salters said that the team wanted to make the statement of taking the knee but separate the message from the anthem.
Many NFL team owners have been put in a difficult position with the player protests, as quite a few have supported Trump in the past. Jones, Khan, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and a handful of others donated to Trump’s inaugural committee earlier this year.