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Group of Browns players take knee in largest anthem protest yet
August 22 at 8:45 AM

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Members of the Cleveland Browns kneel during the national anthem before an NFL preseason football game against the New York Giants on Monday. (Ron Schwane/The Associated Press)

Kneeling and bowing their heads, the Cleveland Browns bonded over something bigger than football.

More than a dozen players huddled together on the team's bench Monday night to protest during the national anthem.

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The group, which included veterans, rookies, starters and backups, gathered in front of some water coolers and behind their teammates who stood on the sideline shortly before the Browns hosted the New York Giants.

Linebacker Jamie Collins, running backs Isaiah Crowell, Duke Johnson and Terrance Magee, safety Jabrill Peppers, tight end Seth DeValve, wide receivers Kenny Britt and Ricardo Louis and defensive back Calvin Pryor dropped to one knee in a circle while rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer, offensive tackle Shon Coleman, punter Britton Colquitt, defensive back Jason McCourty and offensive lineman Marcus Martin stood and supported their teammates by putting their hands on their shoulders.

Colquitt, one of two white players in the group, also placed a hand over his heart.

The protest was the largest so far in a movement started last season by quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is currently out of the NFL. In recent days, Seattle defensive lineman Michael Bennett and Philadelphia defensive back Malcolm Jenkins also have called attention to what they feel is racial injustice in the country.

Oakland running back Marshawn Lynch also has sat during the national anthem in the preseason, but hasn't elaborated on his reasoning.

At halftime, the Browns released a statement.

"As an organization, we have a profound respect for our country's National Anthem, flag and the servicemen and servicewomen in the United States and abroad," the team said through a spokesperson. "We feel it's important for our team to join in this great tradition and special moment of recognition, at the same time we also respect the great liberties afforded by our country, including the freedom of personal expression."

Browns coach Hue Jackson drew criticism last week when he seemed to indicate he didn't want his players to protest. However, Jackson clarified his remarks to say he respected any player who wanted to demonstrate.

"The intent of my comments was not to discourage individual expression from our players in light of a cause that moves them to personal expression," Jackson said. "I'm disheartened that I gave anyone that impression because I did not speak with enough clarity. However, my words did reflect my concern — that I would express to any player — about protesting during the anthem. There are many effective ways athletes can utilize their platform if they so desire, but I would respect any individual decision, as ultimately, it would be the player's choice after much thoughtful dialogue."

Replies

  • MissAndree
    August 22 at 8:48 AM
    Good for them. I predict that this is only the beginning.
  • Luvnlogic
    August 22 at 8:57 AM
    I'm sure there will be plenty of "I don't want to see political messages while I'm trying to watch football" and "leave the country if you don't like it" comments forthcoming. Both of which ignore what the flag and anthem stand for. Free expression and the right to criticize the govt. It may be "inconvenient" timing for the privileged, but I'm sure these players would much rather be able to play without protesting because we'd finally achieved the equality we've claimed to be built on for all these years.
  • couture-mommy
    August 22 at 8:59 AM
    Well said.

    Quoting Luvnlogic: I'm sure there will be plenty of "I don't want to see political messages while I'm trying to watch football" and "leave the country if you don't like it" comments forthcoming. Both of which ignore what the flag and anthem stand for. Free expression and the right to criticize the govt. It may be "inconvenient" timing for the privileged, but I'm sure these players would much rather be able to play without protesting because we'd finally achieved the equality we've claimed to be built on for all these years.
  • nb34
    by nb34
    August 22 at 8:59 AM

    Now there is going to be more outrage over this, than the white supremacists murdering innocent people, just watch.

    Good for them by the way!

  • billsfan1104
    August 22 at 9:04 AM
    Not only do they have the right to take a knee, which most people say they do, but people also have a right to disagree with it and have a voice as well.
    The players don't care. They have a contract that guarantees their pay and payouts. They can't be fired or anything. The owners are the ones who will be losing money, because many people don't want to be bothered with a protest, so they stop watching or supporting the team.
    The NFL lost a lot of money last year. Was it all Kaepernick fault?? Nope. But a majority of it was. He was a loose cannon, started to suck at playing ball and the only thing the media focused on was him.
    I say let him play. Let him get sacked, hit, intercepted and then let the team release him because he sucked.
  • couture-mommy
    August 22 at 9:09 AM
    Oh of course. It's easier to look away when the actual truth is uncomfortable.

    Quoting nb34:

    Now there is going to be more outrage over this, than the white supremacists murdering innocent people, just watch.

    Good for them by the way!

  • msb64
    by msb64
    August 22 at 9:11 AM

  • couture-mommy
    August 22 at 9:18 AM
    This is awesome.
    Let me see how much buzz this is getting on Twitter/Black Twitter... hopefully enough are aware

    Quoting msb64:

  • coolmommy2x
    August 22 at 9:28 AM
    There was a great picture on FB, I wish I had taken a screen shot. It was a picture of Kaepernick kneeling and it said this was offensive and under it was a picture of the white supremacists in marching with a Nazi flag in Charlottesville and it said but these people were practicing freedom of speech. Though it was a meme, I thought it was very interesting.
  • couture-mommy
    August 22 at 9:29 AM

    Mobile Photo

    Something like this?

    Quoting coolmommy2x: There was a great picture on FB, I wish I had taken a screen shot. It was a picture of Kaepernick kneeling and it said this was offensive and under it was a picture of the white supremacists in marching with a Nazi flag in Charlottesville and it said but these people were practicing freedom of speech. Though it was a meme, I thought it was very interesting.

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