Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) said Tuesday that, as an Arizona Cardinals fan, he has always hated NFL rival the Dallas Cowboys, but he supports their right to kneel before a game.
A TMZ Sports reporter pinned down McCain to ask him about the Cowboys’ decision to kneel prior to the national anthem on Monday, and the senior senator from Arizona couldn’t help but get in a football jab, Mediaite reported.
At their Monday night game against the Arizona Cardinals, the Cowboys took a knee in the moments before the national anthem was played. In so doing, they joined numerous other players and teams in the NFL, who were responding to President Donald Trump’s remarks Friday night, during which he criticized protesting football players who have chosen not to stand.
Notably, the Cowboys were joined by team owner Jerry Jones, who has in the past been an outspoken critic of Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling protest. The team then stood for the anthem proper.
On Tuesday, TMZ Sports found McCain in the Senate hallways and asked about the Cowboys’ protest.
“What did you think of the Dallas Cowboys?” the reporter asked.
“What did I think of them? I’ve always hated the Dallas Cowboys, and will continue to do so to this day,” McCain said, grinning.
When pressed, however, McCain said only that he respected the Cowboys’ free speech rights.
“Well what about them taking a knee before the game, and then standing up afterwards?” the reporter asked.
“That’s their right to do what they want as citizens,” McCain said.
McCain is a known fan of the Arizona Cardinals, memorably taking part in a debate against senate colleague Al Franken (D., Minn.) about whose team was better (Franken repped the Minnesota Vikings). McCain also dropped by the team’s final training camp workout in August.
The team has also been supportive of their representative in the Senate: after McCain was diagnosed with brain cancer in July, the whole team offered their support.