Browns Raise the Bar for Anthem Protest

The Browns Will Not Be the First Team with Multiple Players Voicing Their Beliefs

The Cleveland Browns are not necessarily known for creating positive headlines.

That changed last night.

Multiple Cleveland football players were in the kneeling position as the national anthem played in the background. The protest stems from social injustice, racial inconsistency in the justice department, and police brutality against people of color.

Browns players acknowledged they were praying for the country. The number of players involved made the message that much more powerful. Cleveland tight end Seth DeValve became the first white player to take a knee during the anthem. DeValve has children of color, so he felt the need join his teammates in promoting equality.

“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

Although DeValve was the first white player to kneel, he was not the first to take a stand. Philadelphia’s Chris Long placed his hand on teammate Malcolm Jenkins shoulder. The gesture was powerful and was done not with the intent of disrespecting the flag. Seahawk’s Justin Britt placed his hand on teammate Michael Bennett’s shoulder as he stood by his side, supporting his teammates’ cause.

More and more faces of different shades will continue to speak out against racial inequality.

Kaepernick’s Stand Only The Beginning

Colin Kaepernick initiated NFL players utilizing their platforms to voice their concerns for the state of the country. A handful of players carried out their own versions of anthem protests last season. Some raised their fists, others sat down and most took a knee. Players took a stand and since that happened, there has been no other hotter topic in sports.

Kaepernick remains unemployed, even after he voiced he would not kneel this season. Premier players like Bennett are showing no signs of stopping the anthem protests.

“But now, just because he’s out of the league, we didn’t want to lose that message, pushing for liberty and equality for everybody. We just wanted to keep that message alive.” – Bennett

The vile Charlottesville attack proved the country still has a long way to go. With supremacists becoming more comfortable making their intentions known, the racial divide continues to grow. As the divide grows, more and more NFL players will continue to assemble and show unity on the sidelines.

Life After Anthem Protest

Protest has such a negative connotation. NFL players are not speaking out to cause a distraction, be “divisive”, or create a tense atmosphere in the locker room. Instead, they are speaking out for what they believe in. The attention still continues to be on the physical positioning of players during the anthem. In that, the message is missed.

It’s not about whether a player kneels, sits, or does a hand stand during the national anthem. They are putting the country on notice that things are not fair for everybody, which is what this country is based on. Freedom and equality. “Justice and Liberty for all”. That isn’t happening in a lot of different parts of our country.

The players are doing what they can with the platform they are given. The goal is not just for America to notice these players, but to become inspired themselves. The hope is that everyone will use their platform – no matter how big or how small – to stand for equality for all. Everyone is part of this issue. It’s a problem where turning the other way does just as much damage as being apart of the vitriol that is shredding the threads that hold this country together.

The anthem protests only go so far. What’s next? Will players boycott? Possibly. And it may not just be NFL players. More and more athletes are realizing they have a level of pull, a degree of influence – especially over the younger generation. With the social media boom, the younger generation’s idols are speaking up for justice for all. Even if it costs them a job doing what they love.

That could be the next step in this push for social justice. If kneeling during the anthem doesn’t generate enough activism and continues to be met with hate, players could elect to not play at all. A boycotted NFL season would create a mass hysteria. NFL players would lose money, but the owners would go out of business.

Why should that be shocking? The civil, silent disobedient approach didn’t work. The bar will continue to rise as the issue of injustice cannot be swept under the rug.

NFL players won’t allow it to be.


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