Twelve Cleveland Browns players kneeled during the national anthem on Monday night in a preseason game against the New York Giants.
Included in the group was tight end Seth DeValve who became the first white NFL player to kneel during the anthem.
Across the league, players have been kneeling during the anthem while teammates (sometimes white players in the cases of Derek Carr and Chris Long) rest their hands on their shoulders in a show of solidarity.
After the game, DeValve, whose wife is African-American, according to ESPN, said: “I myself will be raising children that don’t look like me, and I want to do my part as well to do everything I can to raise them in a better environment than we have right now. So I wanted to take the opportunity with my teammates during the anthem to pray for our country and also to draw attention to the fact that we have work to do.”
DeValve said the move did not come from any disdain for the U.S., the national anthem, or the military, but to highlight social injustice.
“The issue is [the U.S.] doesn’t provide equal opportunity to everybody,” DeValve said. “I wanted to support my African-American teammates today who wanted to a take a knee. We wanted to draw attention to the fact that there’s things in this country that still need to change.”
Along with DeValve, the Browns players who took a knee were: wide receivers Kenny Britt and Ricardo Louis, running backs Duke Johnson Jr., Isaiah Crowell, Brandon Wilds, and Terrence Magee, safeties Jabrill Peppers and Calvin Pryor, linebackers Christian Kirksey and Jamie Collins, and cornerback Jamar Taylor.
Browns coach Hue Jackson — who had previously said he hoped Browns players wouldn’t protest the national anthem before saying his words were misconstrued — said on Monday: “We respect our players; we respect the flag. Those guys came to me and talked to me about it before they ever made a decision to do it.”
The players said they hadn’t made a decision on kneeling in the future.
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