Sports | September 26, 2017 8:35 am

Cowboys, Cardinals Separately Lock Arms Before Monday’s Game in Display of Unity

The teams showed their disagreement with Trump's recent statements.

Dallas Cowboys Jerry Jones owner says player who kneel during anthem won't play.
Members of the Dallas Cowboys link arms before the National Anthem at the start of the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 25, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals put competition aside for a moment before their game Monday night, to express displeasure with President Donald Trump’s comments about the NFL, made on Friday.

According to ESPN, as the Cardinals were introduced, Jerry Jones, the Cowboys owner and general manager, and Stephen Jones, Charlotte Anderson and Jerry Jones Jr., all executive vice presidents, stood locked arm in arm with Dallas players, coaches, and staff.

Before the national anthem began, the whole team, including Jerry Jones, took a knee as a group. Some people in the stands did not like this, and booed. But during the national anthem, when a large American flag was unfurled, the team did not kneel, but stood locked arm in arm, reports ESPN. 

The Cardinals linked up along the goal line of the southern zone, with some players linking arms and some putting hands on teammates’ shoulders. ESPN reports that defensive tackle Frostee Rucker and tight end Ifeanyi Momah kept their helmets on.

Cardinals president Michael Bidwill locked arms with wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and cornerback Patrick Peterson. Fitzgerald locked arms with Bruce Arians on his other side, ESPN writes, while Bidwill’s sister, brother and general manager also stood with the players.

After the Cowboys’ 28-17 win, Jerry Jones said that he “made up his mind on the issue” and wasn’t going to comment besides to say that he is very proud of his team, and that the players have always stood for the flag and the “recognition for the flag always.” However, what is more important, Jones said, is “to figure out that to show the kind of respect and the perception of respect.” Jones said he team wanted to show unity and a statement of equality in front of a national audience.

Jones went on to say that he “can’t say enough” about the players’ understanding and awareness. He said this was a way to both show respect for the flag and show unity and equality.

Trump tweeted his reaction to the Cowboys’ statement Tuesday morning.

Witten said that he is “going to stand for the national anthem with my hand over my heart until the day I die,” because he is proud of his country. But he said that he can also “respect and agree to disagree” and “that is what the locker room is all about.” He continued to say it is important to take the high road, but also important that you show unity and “you look to create a better good.” He believes his team did that.

Meanwhile, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said the decision to lock arms before the anthem was made by the players. He continued by saying he was moving forward from the demonstration. “I coach football. I’m not a politician,” he said, according to ESPN. When Arians walked into the stadium on Monday night, he wore a handwritten note of support around his neck that read, “Love!! Not Hate!!” reports ESPN. 

Peterson told ESPN that after he heard Trump’s comments, he and another teammate went to Arians and asked if players could do something on Monday night. Fitzgerald reached out to Dallas tight end Jason Witten to discuss the possibility of a join show of unity, but ultimately, the decision was to do something separately as teams.

On Sunday, every NFL team that took the field showed some form of demonstration in response to Trump saying owners should fire the players who disrespect the flag by not standing during the national anthem. Players, coaches and owners all stood together arm in arm, knelt, raised a fist or stayed in the locker room during the national anthem.