President Donald Trump reportedly called Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones four times asking him not to have the team kneel during the national anthem before Monday night's game against the Arizona Cardinals, according to a report from Ian Rapoport of NFL.com:
Ian Rapoport @RapSheet
This week teams have anthem plans. It was tense last week, with @realDonaldTrump calling Jerry Jones 4 times & imploring him not to kneel: https://t.co/D8jvrV4Aze2017-10-1 13:42:49
The Cowboys ultimately knelt as a team before the anthem and then stood during the "Star-Spangled Banner."
The NFL saw widespread protests and demonstrations before last week's games after Trump criticized players who knelt during the national anthem.
"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he's fired. He's fired,'" he said during a campaign rally in Alabama, per Brian Stelter of CNN.com. "You know, some owner is going to do that. He's going to say, 'That guy that disrespects our flag, he's fired.' And that owner, they don't know it [but] they'll be the most popular person in this country."
Kneeling before the anthem as a form of protest in the NFL originated in August 2016 when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat during the anthem to protest racial discrimination and police brutality. He later shifted to kneeling after speaking with former NFL player and Green Beret Nate Boyer, who told Kaepernick he felt it would be more respectful than sitting.
Several other players protested by kneeling or raising a fist during the anthem during the 2016 season or early in the 2017 season before Trump's remarks prompted a more widespread response from NFL teams.