When Ezekiel Elliott revealed his team’s anthem protest plan, he hinted that at least one of his Dallas Cowboys teammates would kneel during the national anthem on Sunday. It turns out Elliott called that one correctly. Defensive tackle Dontari Poe made history through his peaceful form of protest. And after becoming the first Cowboys player to ever kneel during the anthem, he sent a powerful message about the meaning behind his historic decision.
The Cowboys and national anthem protests
When it comes to the topic of national anthem protests, Jerry Jones has never been shy about sharing his view. Back in 2017, the billionaire owner faced a monumental decision. After making it clear that he wanted Cowboys players to stand during the anthem, Jones reached a compromise with his team.
On Sept. 25, the entire Cowboys team, including Jones, took a knee before the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Dallas then stood as a team with arms locked while the anthem played.
For Jones, the topic of Cowboys players kneeling during the anthem once again became an issue this summer. After all, players around the league have expressed strong opinions about police brutality, racial inequality, and social justice in light of George Floyd’s death and the Jacob Blake shooting.
All of that set up an interesting Week 1 scenario. Jones publicly expressed his desire to reach a similar compromise with his team like he did three years ago. However, that plan did not coincide with Dontari Poe’s wishes.
Dontari Poe has been clear about his stance on kneeling
After getting called out by Gerald McCoy for staying silent about social justice, Jerry Jones received another stern message from yet another offseason addition. Dontari Poe criticized the Cowboys owner for not speaking up and putting his full-fledged support behind his players.
In addition, Poe—who knelt during the national anthem in 2017 as a member of the Atlanta Falcons—reiterated his intention to take a knee this season.
Considering Jones’ previous comments, that added another layer of intrigue to Sunday’s season-opener against the LA Rams. Would Poe follow through on his word? Or would he remain standing during the playing of the national anthem?
Poe sends powerful message after historic anthem protest
After months of speculation about what the Cowboys would do during the national anthem, we finally got an answer. As the rest of his teammates stood as “The Star-Spangled Banner” played, Dontari Poe remained on a knee. In doing so, he became the first Cowboys player to kneel during the national anthem.
His historic decision may not have lined up with Jerry Jones’ ideal compromise, but Poe deserves credit for sticking to his word and following through with his peaceful protest.
Following the Cowboys’ 20-17 loss to the Rams, the veteran defensive tackle sent a powerful message about his historic anthem protest and what kneeling means to him. (H/T David Moore)
“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.”
The 30-year-old NFL veteran provided further insight into his rationale behind kneeling during the anthem.
“I do want to start it by doing the simple things such as kneeling to let people know that I feel this way,” Poe explained. “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.”