Cowboys players didn’t know how they were going to respond during the national anthem Monday until owner Jerry Jones presented an idea before the game.
The Cowboys, with Jones and his family among them, collectively took a knee at midfield before the national anthem began. They rose after a few seconds, returned to the sideline and stood arm-in-arm for the Star Spangled Banner.
The move seemed to appease everyone, though some fans booed before realizing the Cowboys weren’t going to kneel during the anthem. The Cowboys’ pregame response could become the model on how to send a unified message without drawing criticism.
“I was just happy we were able to do something together,” receiver Brice Butler said, via Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Initially, we had a certain plan. Then Jerry came and spoke to us before the game and was like, “Just trust me on this; let’s do this together.’ That was Jerry’s plan. I actually liked it, because everybody did it.”
Jones has made it clear in his public statements that he wants the Cowboys to stand for the national anthem, and Dallas remains one of only six teams not to have a player protest during the Star Spangled Banner since the start of the 2016 season, according to the Dallas Morning News. Jones, though, also realized after President Donald Trump’s tweets last week that his players felt the need to respond.
“I enjoy a lot of confidence that our players know that I know my way around the NFL and know that this was a way to basically do both,” Jones said. “So, as you know, I’ve had a lot of criticism over the years for being too close or being too supportive of players. So I don’t ever have to worry about being trusted, or for that matter, believing that we can do it.
“There’s no question we wanted to do something that others could take a look at and say, ‘This is the way to make a statement about that.’ I just don’t believe we’ve gotten to the point in this country where we have to basically be disrespectful of the flag, yet stand up and say, ‘Look, . . . we need to do some things about unity and about equality.’ I don’t know why you have to create controversy, much less controversy regarding the flag. This is an answer to it.”