CLEVELAND -- Following the largest National Anthem protest in the National Football League during the preseason, the Cleveland Browns came under intense scrutiny from the union representing the Cleveland Police Department.
In fact, there was so much backlash that union president Steve Loomis said Cleveland Police officers would not hold the flag at the Browns’ home opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium Sunday.
However, it was announced Friday that Browns players will join members of the Cleveland Police Department and United States military men and women in holding the American flag during the National Anthem prior to Sunday’s kickoff.
“That is great, first of all,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said after Friday’s practice. “I think that is awesome, but I wasn’t a part of those meetings. I would think that just knowing our organization, obviously, we love our country.
“We love our flag. We love the police department and what they do for us. They have done so much for us here, and I think that is super that we are coming together and working together for the right cause and looking forward to watching that happen on Sunday.”
Several Browns players took a knee, while others put their hands on the shoulder pads of their kneeling teammates in a show of support during the National Anthem prior to their Monday Night Football preseason game against the New York Giants at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 21.
Wide receivers Kenny Britt and Ricardo Louis, defensive backs Jamar Taylor and Najee Murray, running backs Isaiah Crowell, Duke Johnson Jr. and Terrence Magee, linebacker Christian Kirksey, rookie safety Jabrill Peppers and tight end Seth DeValve huddled in a circle behind their teammates on the sideline, knelt and held hands during the National Anthem.
Quarterback DeShone Kizer, offensive lineman Shon Coleman, defensive back Jason McCourty and punter Britton Colquitt expressed their support while standing along the sideline, the same sign of support that had been seen around the NFL during the preseason.
It was the first time since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick protested during the National Anthem in August of 2016 that any Browns player either sat or knelt during its playing prior to a game.
Kaepernick remains unsigned since opting out of his contract during the offseason.