“America’s Team” took a knee before the national anthem last week, before standing for the playing of the song, but it seems like this week will be business as usual for the Dallas Cowboys.
According to Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, receiver Dez Bryant said the team will not be doing any more anthem demonstrations. Bryant said the Cowboys will stand with their hands over their hearts for the anthem before their game against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.
According to Hill, Bryant said taking a knee on Monday was about President Donald Trump. Last week Trump made headlines by ripping NFL players and saying they should be fired if they kneel for the anthem. Trump has continued to bash the NFL this week, but the protests are apparently not going to continue in many places.
Already we have seen the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears stand with locked arms for the anthem on Thursday night. The Denver Broncos said as a team they will be standing together. The Cowboys are the latest to acknowledge that they made statements they felt were necessary last week, and now are ready to move on.
The widespread demonstrations last week were surely in reaction to Trump’s comments, as Bryant said, but that is far off the original sentiment of then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick took a knee to bring attention to police brutality and social injustice. That statement has been obscured by the never-ending debate about the anthem and the protests during it. Unfortunately the original message has been mostly lost in the noise, it seems.
What made the widespread anthem demonstrations a bit startling is that football players and especially coaches rarely like to do anything that takes away from the intense focus on football. One of the stated possible reasons Kaepernick hasn’t been signed is that teams might want to avoid “distractions,” which is ridiculous but a window into the single-minded approach of NFL teams. It’s also why you’ll never hear an NFL coach talk about political or social issues like San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich did earlier this week. Speaking freely about social issues won’t win any division titles. For many reasons, many people in the NFL just aren’t wired to speak out about anything – or they’re trained over time to put all of their personality aside in the pursuit of winning football games.
For one week, NFL players stepped far out of their norm and demonstrated in different ways to Trump’s comments. There’s sure to be some form of protests going forward, just like there have been since Kaepernick first sat for the anthem last August. But this week it appears that things will be mostly back to normal, based on the few teams that have announced their plans. It’s a pretty good bet that many people around the NFL will appreciate that.
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