Sunday night, the Dallas Cowboys faced off with the Los Angeles Rams to open their respective seasons. The attention was on America's Team prior to the kickoff due to one player, Dontari Poe, kneeling during the national anthem. Team owner Jerry Jones has since responded and called the display "very genuine."
Jones, who has previously been very vocal about standing during the national anthem, spoke about Poe and the team's reaction during his media rounds on Tuesday. He did not endorse or condemn Poe's decision to kneel on Sunday night, but he praised the team's response. Poe was the only player to kneel, but defensive end Aldon Smith and defensive tackle Antwaun Woods stood beside him, each with a hand on his shoulders.
Dontari Poe is the first Dallas Cowboys player to kneel during the national anthem pic.twitter.com/ecnrjR7TlM— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) September 14, 2020
"I thought our players, I thought they gave it sensitivity," Jones said about Poe and the team's response. "They showed respect to Poe's decision. I think they certainly did ... show a sensitivity to our fans as a team. ... All in all, I thought our team was very real and very genuine in the way it approached it."
Poe turned heads prior to the season when he said that he planned on kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police brutality. He acknowledged that he would first have to speak with Jones about the decision but still planned on doing so during his first season with the team. Poe followed through with his comments on Sunday night, and he later explained to reporters that some of his teammates tried to talk him out of kneeling alone.
"I had already told teammates and coaches that I was going to it," Poe said, per 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."
Prior to the first game, Jones had said that he was looking for "a compromise" on kneeling during the national anthem. One reported option was having the players kneel before the anthem and then stand during it, much like the team did in 2017 prior to a game against the Arizona Cardinals. Ultimately, Poe kneeled on his own, and Jones praised the team's show of support.