“It was real easy for everyone in our organization to see that the message of unity or equality was being pushed aside or diminished by the controversy,” he said.
Mr. Jones declined to comment directly on Mr. Trump’s recent comments about the N.F.L., saying, “I made my mind up on this issue that I wasn’t going to comment other than I’m very proud of the fact that the Dallas Cowboys and our players have always stood for the flag and the recognition for the flag always.”
Dallas Coach Jason Garrett opened a discussion of the pre-game demonstration by saying, “It’s been an interesting 48 hours for everybody.”
Mr. Garrett went on to describe a series of meetings between players, coaches and ownership before the game. “The objectives as much as anything else,” he said, “were to somehow, some way demonstrate unity and demonstrate equality and do so without involving, in any way, the national anthem.”
The demonstration at the beginning of ESPN’s broadcast of “Monday Night Football” showed that the league was continuing to express solidarity in the wake of comments by Mr. Trump, at a political rally in Alabama and in Twitter posts, about how any players that kneel or sit during the anthem should be fired. The situation escalated over the weekend, with Mr. Trump retweeting posts calling for a boycott of the N.F.L.
Most of the league’s owners have supported their players’ protests or demonstrations, either through statements to the news media or by standing with the players on the field during the playing of the anthem. Mr. Jones, however, was the first owner to kneel with his players.
Before the demonstration on Monday, no Cowboys players had participated in any sort of anthem protest, and Mr. Jones had indicated he preferred that remain the case.
“I do not think the place to express yourself in society is as we recognize the American flag,” he said last week in an interview with Fox Business. “So that’s not the place to do anything other than honor the flag and everybody that’s given up a little bit for it.”
But with Mr. Trump’s rhetoric against the league escalating, the decision was made on Monday for the Cowboys to make a statement as a team.
The reaction online was mixed, with some people impressed by Mr. Jones’s supporting his players and others saying the demonstration lost some weight because it came before the anthem. Many on social media pointed out how much vitriol the Cowboys had received in some corners despite standing for the anthem, which was interpreted by some as an indication that those complaining about the demonstration were not solely concerned about respect for the flag or anthem.
Throughout the wave of protests, the N.F.L. has stood by its players. Joe Lockhart, the league’s executive vice president of communications and public affairs, addressed the issue during a conference call on Monday, telling reporters, “Everyone should know, including the president, this is what real locker room talk is.”
Various players addressed the protests on Monday, the most prominent being New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who explained his rationale for locking arms with a teammate.
“If you don’t agree, that is fine,” Mr. Brady said in a radio interview. “You can voice your disagreement, I think that is great. It’s part of our democracy. As long as it is done in a peaceful, respectful way, that is what our country has been all about.”
One of the few players to express regret for Sunday’s actions was Ben Roethlisberger, the quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who claimed a miscommunication had led to his teammate, Alejandro Villanueva, being singled out as the only player seen from the field while the rest of the team remained in the tunnel before Pittsburgh’s game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.
“The idea was to be unified as a team when so much attention is paid to things dividing our country, but I wish we approached it differently,” Mr. Roethlisberger wrote in a statement posted to his personal website. “We did not want to appear divided on the sideline with some standing and some kneeling or sitting.”
With some form of demonstration occurring at every game on Sunday and Monday, the question going forward is whether the protests will persist into next week and beyond. The first glimpse of what may happen will come on Thursday night when the Chicago Bears travel to Green Bay to face the Packers.
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