Before leading the New England Patriots to a 23-7 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday night, star quarterback Tom Brady put his pregame routine on hold to recognize the men and women of the U.S. military.
Roughly 200 members of the military were honored on the field prior to the game. Brady and wide receiver Chris Hogan made sure to pay their respects in the form of high-fives.
— SNF on NBC (@SNFonNBC) October 23, 2017
The plan to invite the members of the military to the game was reportedly initiated by Patriots long snapper Joe Cardona, who is also an active member of the U.S. Navy, and special teams player Matthew Slater, according to 247 Sports.
It was a small gesture, but the message from Brady was clear.
The display is getting some extra attention as it stands in contrast to some NFL players who continue to kneel or sit during the national anthem in protest of racial injustice. Polls have shown many Americans find it offensive to use the national anthem as a platform for any protest.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently made it clear that the league wants players to stand for the national anthem, saying in a statement:
Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem. It is an important moment in our game. We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us. We also care deeply about our players and respect their opinions and concerns about critical social issues. The controversy over the Anthem is a barrier to having honest conversations and making real progress on the underlying issues. We need to move past this controversy, and we want to do that together with our players.
However, he later clarified the NFL would not punish players who continued to kneel.