Cardinals players huddled up before their preseason game against the Bears.
With more than two decades of experience in the NFL, Bruce Arians feels like he has a handle on the personality of its players, and his perspective doesn't jibe with the portrait painted by President Donald Trump, the Cardinals coach said Saturday.
In a speech Friday night and in Tweets on Saturday, Trump criticized NFL players who have protested inequality by kneeling during the national anthem and suggested owners fire those who disrespect the American flag.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement on Saturday which said, in part, "divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players," to which Arians agreed.
"I thought the commissioner had a great statement, and I agree with it," Arians said. "I've been in locker rooms for 25 years, and some of the most reputable men I've ever met wear that uniform. To even overcome the things in their life to get to the NFL is amazing. What they've done in the last month for hurricane relief victims speaks volumes of what we're all about in the NFL."
Veteran defensive tackle Frostee Rucker hopes the Cardinals have a united front in the wake of Trump's comments.
"It's a shame that we're still dealing with these issues, over and over and over, and he somehow gets a pass to say these things," Rucker said. "These guys, we've got to stay together and show him in a different way. Instead of lashing out and being pissed off about it, we've got to stick together. Show compassion, love and everything else we do. It's a brotherhood in the locker room, we're out in the community, and we know ourselves. We know everything we're about. We can't let one single person, even though it's the president, dictate how we feel. We stick together. We're in a union. If someone takes a knee, it's almost like we all take a knee, in a sort. He said what he said. We're going to stick together and be a team."
Left tackle D.J. Humphries has been a vocal critic of Trump's rhetoric, but said he doesn't want to dwell on the remarks and instead look for a way to improve race relations.
"You can't talk to that person," Humphries said. "You're talking to a wall. You may as well talk to my locker, because you're going to get the same response. It's sad. I hate that this happened. I'm just trying to figure a way that I can help my people, and help the people on this side of the spectrum understand right and wrong."
No Cardinals have protested during the national anthem since 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began doing so last season, but Rucker isn't ruling out that possibility when the team hosts the Cowboys on "Monday Night Football."
"I couldn't tell you," Rucker said. "I know guys are upset. I know we do have enough leadership to be able to stick together and not do anything single-handedly. I don't think anyone wants to be isolated in that, because it's a dangerous thing when you're isolated. So if there is anything like that, it's going to be unified."
Humphries wants the feeling of solidarity to emanate past the locker room.
"We can't do anything without everybody being together – white, black, brown, green, purple, old, young," Humphries said. "Nothing is going to happen if we're not together, and that's the message we're trying to pass on to everybody."
When asked about the idea of a protest, Arians said "that is an individual right of an American."
JOHN BROWN, HUMPHRIES WON'T PLAY
Wide receiver John Brown (quad) and Humphries (knee) will both miss a second straight game on Monday. Money linebacker Deone Bucannon (ankle) is listed as questionable but is expected to make his season debut, although his role could be limited.
"(He) really ran around in pads and did not get sore, so I think he'll be more than ready," Arians said.
Wide receiver J.J. Nelson (hamstring) is questionable for the game after hauling in five catches for 120 yards and a touchdown last week. Tight end Jermaine Gresham (ribs) and guard Mike Iupati (triceps) are also questionable.
For the Cowboys, cornerback Nolan Carroll (concussion), cornerback Chidobe Awuzie (hamstring) and linebacker Anthony Hitchens (knee) won't play. Wide receiver Terrence Williams (ankle), defensive tackle Stephen Paea (knee) and wide receiver Brice Butler (ankle) are questionable.
Images of the key players for this week's opponent, the Dallas Cowboys