The New England Patriots silenced their ''End Zone Militia'' on Sunday night, taking the muskets away from the Revolutionary War re-enactors who fire into the air to celebrate every score.
The memory of the Connecticut school shooting was still too fresh for
the sight of weapons and the smell of gunpowder.
Two days after 20 children and six adults were shot to death at the
Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., NFL stadiums fell
silent before Sunday's games to honor the victims' memory. Some teams
darkened their scoreboards and lowered their flags to half-staff, while
others wore helmet decals or black ribbons.
After learning that he was the favorite player of one 6-year-old
victim, New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz wrote ''R.I.P. Jack
Pinto,'' ''Jack Pinto, my hero'' and ''This one is for you'' on his
shoes for the game against the Falcons in Atlanta. Cruz said he called
the boy's family after hearing he was a Giants fan and was told they
planned to bury him in one of Cruz's No. 80 jerseys.
''I don't even know how to put it into words,'' Cruz said. ''There are
no words that can describe the type of feeling that you get when a kid
idolizes you so much that unfortunately they want to put him in the
casket with your jersey on. I can't even explain it.''
The Patriots, the closest team to Newtown that played at home on
Sunday, wore a helmet sticker with the city seal and a black ribbon on
it; the cheerleaders and mascot wore black armbands, and owner Bob
Kraft pledged $25,000 to the community, where he also owns a box-making
factory. Before the game, the public address announcer asked for
silence while 26 flares were sent into the air.
The Sunday Night Football broadcast on NBC, featuring the high-profile
matchup of the Patriots and San Francisco 49ers, was moved to CNBC and
the NBC Sports Network when President Barack Obama addressed the
nation. The game returned to its regular channel after the president's
remarks from Newtown.
The Giants, another popular team in southwestern Connecticut, affixed a
decal with the school's initials - ''SHES'' - on their helmets.
''Being close to home, the players were greatly upset about it,''
Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. ''Many of the players have young
children so they can empathize with the parents who had young children
killed. There was no one that escaped the effect of it, but that's not
an excuse for why we played the way we played today.''
Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt wrote ''Newtown, CT'' on one of
the gloves he wore in warmups and on both of his shoes for the game.
''We're playing football, and there's something much bigger going on in
this world,'' Watt said. ''I just wanted them to know, and I wanted
everyone to know, that our thoughts are with them. Nothing is bigger
than that. We played our game today, but honestly our thoughts are with
them, the families, the teachers, the friends, the first responders,
who had to go see that. My dad is a first responder. They were just
In St. Louis, the players who wear No. 26 - Rams running back Daryl Richardson and Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield - joined hands in a
circle with their coaches at midfield before their game, surrounded by
dozens of children wearing jerseys.
''I have a son that's in kindergarten. It choked me up because I would
hate to be one of those parents,'' Rams running back Steven Jackson
said. ''You drop your kid off at school and he or she wants to go there
and learn and better themselves, and to then go to the school and find
that your child will no longer be with you. I couldn't imagine that
Flags were also at half-staff in Baltimore, where the scoreboards went
black as the public address announcer asked the crowd at the game
between the Ravens and Denver Broncos to observe ''silent reflection''
in the wake of Friday's ''horrific tragedy.''
''As a parent you drop your kids off at school many times,'' said Miami Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, whose 21-year-old son Michael fell into a
Wisconsin river and drowned in January. ''It's hard to put into words
what that community and those families must feel like. We obviously
kept them in our prayers.''
A moment of silence was observed at all 14 NFL games on Sunday; in
Houston and in Arlington, Texas, the scoreboard went black. Members of
the Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks stood quietly with their heads
down on their sideline while fans stood silently at the Rogers Centre
The Bills did continue their pregame habit of playing U2's ''Sunday
Bloody Sunday,'' which they've played before every home game this
season. The song is in reference to British troops shooting and killing
unarmed protesters in Derry, Northern Ireland in January 1972.
In Chicago, Green Bay wide receiver Donald Driver retweeted the names
of the victims. St. Louis defensive end Chris Long said after the 36-22
loss the Vikings that it was hard to feel sorry for himself.
''As we sit here and feel sorry for ourselves after losing a football
game, it really helps put things in perspective,'' he said. ''I was
watching TV last night and saw a victim's parent and I was really moved
by that, the strength that they were showing up there. If we can all
show that strength, we'll be all right as a team and as people. `'
Houston must do a better job scoring vs New England if they want to move…