Dontari Poe knew he might not have much visible support. He also knew what was in his heart.
The veteran defensive tackle was the only Cowboys player to kneel during the national anthem prior to last night’s game against the Rams, a decision he knew might put him on a bit of an island. While running back Ezekiel Elliott said last week he expected some players to kneel, Poe was the only one. Backup defensive tackle Antwaun Woods and defensive end Aldon Smith stood behind Poe with their hands on his shoulders, and Woods and Poe hugged afterwards.
“I had already told teammates and coaches that I was going to it,” Poe said, via Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “That’s where my head was at. My teammates were telling me that they didn’t want me to do it by myself alone because we’re a team. But I had told them my mind was already made up and I felt this way. And if they didn’t, don’t do it. Don’t do it unless your heart is there like mine was. I appreciate my guys for sticking with me for being behind me.”
Poe said he had no hard feelings toward teammates who tried to talk him out of his stance (he’s been doing it since before he joined the Cowboys this offseason). Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has made his feelings known, saying he expected his players to stand “toes on the line” for the anthem, though he softened that stance since the police killing of George Floyd.
But for Poe, it was more about standing up for what he believed in, rather than standing up to make someone else happy.
“It’s just bringing more awareness to what’s going on in this world — to the racial injustices that’s going on, to the oppression that’s happening to my race, the black people,” Poe said. “It’s not something that’s going to be solved in a day. This is letting people know and this is my way of fighting it. It’s the beginning of it. We might not see change in my lifetime.
“I do want to start it by doing the simple things such as kneeling to let people know that I feel this way. I feel hurt with what’s going on. I feel like everyone needs to be accountable. The police need to be held accountable. And the world needs to hold them accountable. That’s basically it and that’s how I feel about it.”
Even if that leaves him alone on his own sideline.
Dontari Poe didn’t mind being only Cowboys kneeling originally appeared on Pro Football Talk