As the focus of NFL player protests turned to the national primetime platform of ESPN’s “Monday Night Football,” the Dallas Cowboys football team took a knee moments before the singing of the National Anthem at the Arizona Cardinals’ stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, arranged for a gigantic American flag that covered the length of the field to be carried out and unfurled by dozens of fans, military and law enforcement veterans.
During the singing of the anthem by Jordin Sparks, the Cowboys stood with locked arms, as did the Cardinals. It did not appear that any members of the Cardinals took a knee during the pre-game ceremony.
NFL players across the league on Sunday registered their outrage at President Donald Trump’s harsh comments suggesting the league fire players who opt against standing for the National Anthem as a means of protesting police brutality and racial inequality.
Trump’s divisive comments during the weekend sparked widespread social action on the part of players, teams and some owners and coaches. The President was roundly criticized by sports and political commentators for his surprising decision to target NFL players.
ESPN reported that the Cowboys and Cardinals had discussed engaging in a joint gesture on the field but ultimately opted against it.
The Cowboys’ assembly included coaches and owner Jerry Jones. There was some question in sports circles on Monday about how the franchise known as “America’s Team” would react to the snowballing protest of discrimination and inequality. There were audible boos coming from the stands as players kneeled.
As ESPN’s cameras panned the lineup of both teams, a mixture of distress, determination and sweat was visible on the faces of many players.
Sparks, meanwhile, made a quiet statement with “31: 8-9” written in black marker on her hand in a spot that was impossible to miss as she held the microphone. The Biblical verse from Proverbs reads: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”