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.