On Sunday, coaches and players from different NFL teams either took a knee or linked arms during the national anthem in a display of unity and/or protest. While the meaning behind why each individual decided to make a statement may be murky, it’s clear that it was an overall response to President Donald J. Trump’s attacks against athletes in the NFL and NBA over the weekend.
As of Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys were one of the teams that had yet to respond to Trump’s comments. Owner Jerry Jones previously proudly claimed that none of his players ever kneeled during the anthem and is one of seven owners in the league to have made donations to Trump, according to ESPN.
However, before their game against the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night, all of the players, coaches, and Jones linked arms and kneeled in the grass. It's important to note the team kneeled before the national anthem, and then stood up during it.
The action of kneeling during the anthem gained widespread criticism and backlash after Colin Kaepernick began quietly kneeling in protest of police brutality in 2016. Many accused Kaepernick, who at the time was quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, of being unpatriotic. He is currently without a team.
While the solidarity now seems to conclude that the Cowboys, along with the rest of the NFL, does not approve of Trump’s comments, it’s difficult to decipher what the display means in relation to Kaepernick’s original intent. Kaepernick took a knee in protest of state-sanctioned violence, not Trump's immaturity. In fact, by kneeling before the anthem and not during, their "symbol of unity" further sullies the protest that started a year ago while Obama was still in office.
Read more about how Colin Kaepernick is changing the conversation about race and sports here.