Before the National Anthem played on Monday Night Football, the entire Dallas Cowboys roster, coaches, and the Jerry Jones family locked arms and took a knee in the middle of University of Phoenix Stadium.
When the anthem began to play, everyone rose to their feet and placed their hands over their hearts. The gesture was both a sign of protest and solidarity with other NFL players and a gesture of respect for the flag and those who have given their lives to defend it.
You can hear the crowd booing the Cowboys, who were the visiting team, as they knelt on the field.
The protest, which began with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick last season in response to ongoing racial inequality, has grown into a protest of free speech after the President suggested any player who protests should be fired. Those comments divided NFL fans and Trump supporters and as many NFL teams struggled to find a way to support their teammates and the military.
Jerry Jones, National Football Hall of Fame owner of the Dallas Cowboys, was a Trump supporter, donating $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee. But even he felt the need to kneel in protest.
“I do not think the place to express yourself in society is as we recognize the American flag,” Jones said in an interview with FOX Business. “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.”
Jones wanted to express unity while separating that message from the National Anthem. The gesture was both a way to support the military while standing up for a central American right– the right to free speech and protest.
Jordin Sparks sang the national anthem with Proverbs 31:8-9 written on her hand.
NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, said he was “proud” of the league and the way they handled the protest. Several NFL owners, including vocal Trump supporters Shahid Khan of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots also spoke out against President Trump. The NBA has announced their support of their players’ right to free speech and protest. NASCAR has announced any driver who kneels will be fired.