One of the players who took part in the circle, Seth DeValve, is the first white NFL player to take part in kneeling, though he did not realize it as he was doing so.
CLEVELAND, Ohio — Colin Kaepernick still is without an NFL team, but that hasn’t discouraged players for following his controversial lead and opting not to stand during the national anthem.
Twelve members of the Cleveland Browns took a knee Monday night and shared a moment of prayer before their home preseason game against the New York Giants. Other teammates huddled around the group in support.
It was the largest group of NFL players not to stand during the national anthem since Kaepernick started his protest a year ago, saying he didn’t want to “show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” Kaepernick is biracial.
“There’s a lot of social and racial injustices going on in the world right now,” said Browns safety Jabrill Peppers, one of the players who knelt. “We were just praying for everyone. Everyone thinks that when you reach a certain level, a certain status in life, certain things you’re unaffected by, but that’s not the truth. We’re all human at the end of the day, and we just have to come together at times like these. It was just us being together, a bunch of teammates praying for the world.”
‘Time for me to join my brothers’
The players who knelt were running backs Duke Johnson Jr. and Terrence Magee, safeties Peppers and Calvin Pryor, cornerback Jamar Taylor, tight end Seth DeValve, wide receivers Kenny Britt and Ricardo Louis, linebackers Christian Kirksey and Jamie Collins, and running backs Isaiah Crowell and Brandon Wilds. Crowell and Wilds were not in uniform.
Standing nearby in solidarity were punter Britton Colquitt, cornerback Jason McCourty, quarterback DeShone Kizer, defensive tackle Trevon Coley and offensive tackle Shon Coleman.
“Obviously, this is a sensitive subject in our country right now,” Kizer said. “Quite frankly — it is kind of sad on my part — I don’t really know the different teams and what they are doing, but I did see an opportunity with my guys to support them on an awesome venture out there when they decided that they are going to pray in a time where this country is kind of all over the place in a sense of human rights and the racial movements. I decided it was a time for me to join my brothers who decide to take a knee and support them while they were praying.”
Kirksey, who led the prayer group, said the group felt like Monday night was the right time to do it. The game was broadcast on national television.
“With everything you do, you have to have respect,” Kirksey said. “We did it in a way that resembled prayer. We were just praying over the country and praying over things going on. We did it as respectfully as possible, and we respect everything that happened with things in the military. We respect all of that. We just felt it was the right time for us to do this and say a prayer for this country.”
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Article Courtesy of CNN and WJW Fox 8 News Cleveland
Picture Courtesy of Joe Robbins and Getty Images