Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones joined his players and coaches before last night's Monday Night Football game in Arizona and took a brief knee on the field in what Jones would later call a demonstration of "unity and a statement of equality."
The collective kneeling was done, not while the national anthem played, but before hand, allowing everyone to stand during the "Star Spangled Banner," a departure from similar protests around the league.
"What is important is to figure out that to show the kind of respect and the perception of respect," Jones said. "How can [the team] in front of a national audience show unity and a statement of equality. [The team] wanted to do that."
Jones' attempt to allow his players to express themselves while controlling how they did it was not as successful as he'd hoped. As the video above makes clear, there were plenty of boo birds in the stands, despite Jones stripping the kneeling protest of all meaning.
When Colin Kaepernick started kneeling during the anthem last year, it was to protest police brutality and institutional racism. This is about a billionaire owner and his team showing "unity" and hoping no one will remember the real reasons for these protests.
President Trump weighed in on the move Tuesday morning.
ESPN's Scott Van Pelt was also on board with the Cowboys' sanitized version of the silent demonstration, but was far less generous to those who booed the team. As he sees it, the Cowboys disassociated the protest from the national anthem and the flag, leaving booing fans with no good reason to be angry.
Another development in the controversy swirling around the national anthem kneeling came Tuesday morning in the form of a statement from Marie Tillman, the widow of former NFL player and Army Ranger Pat Tillman.
Killed in 2004, Tillman has been used as a prop by those who oppose protesting players. He, they say, is an example of a good and proper athlete and someone who'd never try to make a point during the national anthem. President Trump even retweeted an image of him this week imploring players to stand for the anthem.
In a clear rebuke of Trump, Marie told CNN that her husband's image should not be "politicized."
She went on: "The very action of self expression and the freedom to speak from one’s heart — no matter those views — is what Pat and so many other Americans have given their lives for. Even if they didn’t always agree with those views. It is my sincere hope that our leaders both understand and learn from the lessons of Pat's life and death, and also those of so many other brave Americans."