As the Browns prepared for the 2017 season, high hopes were held by Browns’ players and their fans for a much improved showing this year. They had a good draft and it seemed that Hue Jackson had the team pointed in the right direction.
But then August hit and things took an surprising, unexpected turn for the team.
In a two week span during the preseason in August, Hue Jackson voiced his opinions in response to players protesting during the National Anthem and a week later a group of players took a knee during the anthem in silent protest against racial injustice. Then earlier this week, the Cleveland police union spoke out against the Browns, stating that they wouldn’t participate in the pre-game flag holding ceremony in the team’s home opener in protest of the Browns’ protest against social injustice.
“As a veteran of Operation Desert Storm and the United States Navy, and a 24-year veteran of the Cleveland Police Department,” said Steve Loomis, President of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, “I am not going to participate or work with management that allows their players to disrespect the flag and the national anthem.”
Echoing the sentiments of Loomis was the President of ILA Local 1975, the union which represent’s the city’s EMTs, dispatchers and paramedics.
“This hit home with me.” said EMS union president Daniel Nemeth. “I am a veteran, an 8-year veteran with the U.S. Marine Corps. So, to disrespect the flag by taking a knee is not something I was going to be a part of.”
All of a sudden, the spotlight was on the Browns for everything else but the team’s actual regular season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers. But cooler heads prevailed and grown folks came together to right the ship and demonstrate that while you might disagree over the purpose and/or timing of these protests, you can still come together to show unity in the fight against ignorance, racism and injustice.
During the anthem before the team’s game against the Steelers, the Browns players and police officers linked arms in a show of unity, and then the team played a short video further strengthening their commitment to justice and unity.
Cleveland Browns on Twitter
A special message on unity and equality from members of the Cleveland Browns. https://t.co/CvyTdgTaIS
Players such as linebacker Jamie Collins, quarterback DeShone Kizer, tackle Joe Thomas and Head Coach Hue Jackson made appearances during the video to bring the city together.
“We want our football team to be a great unifier of our community.” said Jackson in the video.
Although the Browns ended up losing to the Steelers 21-18, the showed great promise both during the game and before it. And for the the city of Cleveland, hopefully these are promising signs of great things to come.