Many eyes were on the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals Monday night, not just because there was a football game, but because of what happened during NFL games all over the country on Sunday. Players protested police brutality against African-Americans, as well as the controversial comments of President Donald Trump about athletes use of on-field means of self-expression.
On Sunday, some players kneeled during the national anthem, while others locked arms, or waited until the anthem was over before taking the field. In Arizona, the Cowboys, along with team owner Jerry Jones, took a collective knee before the song.
Daron Roberts, director of the Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation at the University of Texas at Austin, and a former NFL coach, says he thinks players will continue with game day protests.
On the surprising decision the Cowboys made as a team:
I think most of America was surprised to see “America’s team” protest the comments made by President Trump in such a fashion. You had the owner, you had the entire team take a knee before the anthem. Once the anthem is played, they stand and locked arms… I think it was a really vivid statement, and lets you know how important this issue is.
On how likely it is that protests will continue:
I suspect that players will continue to protest in this form. I don’t think you will continue to see this from owners. I think it will be very interesting to see how these protests continue to develop over the rest of the season.
On how protests by NFL players began and why:
This began August 14, 2016. For many people, it started yesterday. But I think what’s lost is that [San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick] who isn’t on an NFL roster any more – what he started last August is still continuing today. And I’ll be honest with you, I don’t see a logical end in sight. He took a knee to bring awareness to forms of brutality and oppression in the country. And that issue, unfortunately, is evergreen. And because there isn’t a clear solution to race in America, I don’t see it ending anytime soon.
On whether the newly high-profile nature of these protests dilutes their message:
I believe that the one benefit of this entire situation is that it’s really forced people to articulate what they think is important as ideals in America… Taking a knee for about two minutes before a game starts is about as peaceful as it gets. But you’ve seen an onslaught of criticism. And so people have had to really dissect their belief and faith in the Constitution, their desire to want to watch good football, and really think about what their issues are on race. And I think that this discussion is nothing but healthy for the country.