LM Otero/Associated Press
Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Dontari Poe became the first player in franchise history to protest police brutality and systemic racism by kneeling during the national anthem.
As Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News noted, he did so prior to Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams. Gehlken pointed out Poe was the only Cowboys player to kneel, although nose tackle Antwaun Woods put his hand on Poe’s shoulder and embraced his teammate after the anthem.
Gehlken provided additional context:
Michael Gehlken @GehlkenNFL
Cowboys stand in unison on end-zone line for “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which is being performed by Alicia Keys. Most Rams players not on field. https://t.co/ZgNr0xpmvR
It was not a surprise that Poe knelt considering he told Jon Machota of The Athletic in August he planned on kneeling during the anthem.
Poe joined the Cowboys this offseason after playing for the Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers during the first eight years of his career. He also told Machota he planned on meeting with Jerry Jones prior to kneeling.
Jones was shown by the NBC broadcast standing during the anthem with his hand over his heart.
In 2017, Jones said any Dallas player who “disrespects the flag” and did not stand during the anthem would not play, per Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News. Jones joined Cowboys players on the field and knelt prior to the playing of the anthem before a game during that 2017 campaign:
Bleacher Report @BleacherReport
Cowboys & Owner Jerry Jones link arms & kneel together prior to the national anthem on #MNF https://t.co/wujGb0EON3
Jones did appear to take something of a softer stance in August when he suggested he will show “grace” to players who kneel as a means of protesting this year.
The change in tone is notable considering worldwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism have made so many headlines in recent months in light of the police shootings and killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake and many others.