For all the many diverse backgrounds and viewpoints that occupy the Dallas Cowboys’ locker room, there was common ground in the room following Monday’s win against the Cardinals.
For every question about the contest itself, Cowboys players faced plenty more about their pregame demonstration – one meant to showcase team unity and a call for equality – just before the national anthem.
In his own way, each Cowboys player expressed satisfaction with how that came to pass.
“It was a tough deal to handle, but I think this team, this organization – players, coaches, staff – everyone did the right thing,” said Dak Prescott. “We came together, we had a lot of dialogue and talked about what we wanted to do – just our side and our show of the unity that we want to bring in this country and just help everything that’s going on right now.”
Speaking to a crowd in Alabama, Trump called for league owners to fire any player that protested during the song. That in turn sparked responses across the NFL – from league owners to their teams, all 32 of which made some sort of demonstration during their Week 3 games.
“We just wanted to show everyone we don’t agree at all with what the President said,” said Ezekiel Elliott. “We showed that we weren’t going to be divided by that.”
It certainly is a divisive issue, as the national dialogue has clearly indicated throughout the weekend. With that in mind, Cowboys players said they wanted to do something to rise above the controversy.
“It was a team thing. I feel like that’s the true definition of unity,” said Dez Bryant. “Trump can’t divide this. I think sports showed the perfect example of unity. It’s our job. It’s not just black NFL players. It’s a mix. It’s different races.”
It was quite a collection of different people on display in that moment, as Cowboys coaches, players, staff and ownership briefly took a knee before the playing of the national anthem, then stood at attention once it began.
That cohesion was the result of days’ worth of conversation. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, as well as several players said the dialogue started early in the weekend. It wasn’t until nearly game time that the organization decided on a demonstration that would both showcase their message, as well as pay respect to the flag and the anthem.
“I think that was the biggest thing is that we wanted to be together on it,” said Jason Witten. “We spent the last 48 hours, spent a lot of time talking about it and listening.”
“There was a lot of passion and emotion,” Witten added. “Quite frankly I wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s nothing like an NFL locker room and the men that make it up.”
That was on full display Monday, as dozens of different backgrounds came together toward one purpose. To hear it from the Cowboys, it was the makeup of their locker room that made it possible.
“At the end of the day, we wanted to show that we love each other as teammates and we love this country,” said Sean Lee. “We love being around each other. We wanted to show that.”