“I think everybody has a right to do, and I get it, but the National Anthem means a lot to myself personally, the organization and our football team. I hope again I cant speak, I havent really talked to our team about it I would hope that we dont have those issues. I understand there is a lot going on in the world. I like to just keep it here. What we deal with, we try to deal with as a team in our closed environment. We talk about things. Hopefully, that wont happen. I cant tell you it wont happen, but I just know our guys, and I dont think that is where our focus is. We hope the things that are going on in the world get ironed out, but I know right now we are doing everything we can to get our football team better.” – Browns’ Head Coach Hue Jackson
That was the answer given by Coach Jackson last week in response to a reporter’s question about players taking a knee during the National Anthem. Well after Charlottesville, actions have become way more important than words, so a group of players on the Browns, both Black and White, decided to take a knee and bow their heads in silent protest of social injustice during the Anthem before the team’s game tonight against the NY Giants.
According to the Denver Post, those players were linebackers Jamie Collins and Christian Kirksey, 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, who all took a knee in a group circle. Rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer, offensive tackle Shon Coleman, punter Britton Colquitt, defensive back Jason McCourty and offensive lineman Marcus Martin stood in support while placing their hands on the shoulders of their kneeling teammates.
In response to the silent protest, the Browns issued the following statement at halftime:
As an organization, we have a profound respect for our countrys National Anthem, flag and the servicemen and servicewomen in the United States and abroad. We feel its 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.
After being blasted last week by people like Shannon Sharpe, Jackson attempted to clarify his earlier remarks.
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. Im 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 players choice after much thoughtful dialogue.
Well the players have demonstrated their individual expression, so we’ll see what comes next.