DALLAS - The Dallas Cowboys put a new twist on the protests during Monday night’s game. The team took a knee but then stood up for the national anthem.
President Trump has already turned to Twitter to share his reaction. While he continued to slammed the NFL and its ratings, he commended the Cowboys for standing up for the anthem saying, “Big progress being made-we all love our country!”
During a Tuesday afternoon press conference, Trump said the controversy he ignited hasn't been a distraction from other priorities.
"I wasn't preoccupied with the NFL, I was ashamed of what was taking place, because to me that was a very important moment. I don't think you can disrespect our country, our flag, our national anthem," Trump said.
Instead of doing what some other teams did like staying in the locker room during the anthem or everyone either standing or kneeling, the Cowboys made a statement together by taking a knee before the Star Spangled Banner and standing up during it.
Many fans praised the Cowboys for the way they handled the pregame. Others criticized them for not taking a side.
“Jerry Jones & Cowboys honored the anthem & protest. The fact that people are still upset proves this was never about the anthem. #GoCowboys,” tweeted Adam Graham, a fan.
“What Jerry Jones and the Cowboys did was even more insulting… They assume everyone is stupid and can be fooled on a technicality,” Mark Pantono said on Twitter.
First Baptist Church of Dallas Senior Pastor Robert Jeffress sparked a new controversy. He said if the players lived in North Korea they would be shot in the head for protesting. He said pro athletes should be grateful, not critical of the country.
"Jesus said we have our responsibility toward our government. We owe our government not just our taxes, but we owe them our respect and our prayers," Jeffress said.
The pastor is an adviser to the president. Owner Jerry Jones has also been a supporter of President Trump and donated to his campaign. After the game, reporters asked him what he thought about the president’s statements and requests that people boycott the NFL.
“I made my mind up on this issue that I wasn't gonna comment other than I'm very proud of the fact that the Dallas Cowboys and our players have always stood in recognition of the flag, ALWAYS,” he said.
Jones and his family joined the team and coaches as they took a knee. No owner has done that before.
“The objectives as much as anything else were to somehow some way to demonstrate unity and demonstrate equality and do so without anyway involving the American flag and the national anthem,” Head Coach Jason Garrett said.
Running back Ezekiel Elliott explained that while they might not appreciate the president asking people to boycott the NFL, it won’t break them down.
“We just wanted to show unity. We don't agree at all on what the president said, and we just wanted to show that we weren't gonna be divided by that,” he said.
“It was a tough deal to handle but I think this team's organization – players, coaches and staff – everyone did the right thing. We came together. We had a lot of thought about it and talking about what we wanted to do. It was just our sign, our show of unity that we want to bring in this county to everything that’s going on right now. I think we did a great job,” quarterback Dak Prescott added.
The Arizona Cardinals stood in a line along the goal line during the anthem. Many linked arms and some had their hands on teammates’ shoulders.