Dallas Cowboys players stood with their hands over their hearts while the national anthem was played inside AT&T Stadium before they took on the Los Angeles Rams.
The lone player to protest for either side was Rams defensive end Robert Quinn. He stood but held up a fist representing the Black Power movement.
Rams fan Lisa Dean, who traveled from Los Angeles to Arlington for the game, felt the players should not protest.
“I would be disappointed,” said Dean. “I think they all should stand. This is the flag [representing] we’re the United States, but everybody’s got their own personal choice.”
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The Rams had a bye week during last week’s controversy that overshadowed much of Week 3 of the National Football League season. Hundreds of NFL players, as well as Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, took a knee while locking arms in protest against President Donald Trump’s criticism of NFL players protesting the national anthem.
Synbad Ontiveros, a Cowboys fan, said that showing was the best way to address the controversy as a team.
“That was the most diplomatic thing they could do,” said Ontiveros. “And being America’s Team, I think they set the example.”
During a political rally in Alabama in September, Trump said, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, “Get that son of a b---- off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!”
Before last week’s games, hundreds of players protested by taking a knee or even staying in the locker during the national anthem. During a nationally televised Monday Night Football game on the road in Arizona, the Cowboys and Jones knelt before the anthem, then stood with their arms locked as it was performed.
One Cowboys fan, Gary Simerson, disagreed with that move.
“They all come out and he takes a knee with them,” said Simerson. “I think that was a little disgraceful.”
Other fans, like Grant Gurbach, had mixed feelings about it.
“I think it showed unity, but sometimes I think they should keep the flag out of it,” he said.
Most fans seemed to agree that the Cowboys showed respect for the anthem and the American flag. But Ontiveros felt the root cause of the protest runs deeper.
“At the end of the Pledge of Allegiance it says ‘individually under God with justice and liberty for all,’ ” said Ontiveros. “Not ‘for a few’ and not ‘for a select.’ ”
Last season, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick initially sat on a bench during the performance of the national anthem, then decided to take a knee in protest of police brutality against African-Americans and other minorities in the country.
Cowboys fan Kevin Van Hook attended Sunday’s game with his two sons.
He said the player protests might begin to fade in a few weeks, but he hopes they keep the conversation about the seemingly unfair treatment of minorities in the forefront.
“Hopefully we can just continue to talk about what’s happening around our country — the country that we all love,” said Van Hook.
As the sound of trumpets playing the national anthem climbed inside AT&T Stadium, the crowd could be heard singing along, many with their hands over their hearts, while others sung while taking a knee. As the anthem ended, loud cheers echoed throughout the stadium.
Players on both teams began jumping and pumping their fist with excitement as the opening kickoff neared. Though the Cowboys led at halftime, the Rams went on to win 35-30, dropping the Cowboys to 2-2.
In the end, many fans said they would rather Trump stay out of sports and focus on more pressing issues in the country. Ontiveros pointed to the devastation caused by hurricanes Maria in Puerto Rico and Harvey in Houston.
“The president can be as divisive as he wants to be, but the people of the United States will always rise,” Ontiveros said.