For the past couple of weeks, the Cleveland Browns organization has found itself linked to the national anthem protests that have become increasingly prevalent in the NFL.
On Thursday, the most prominent player in franchise history, Jim Brown, weighed in.
In an interview with ThePostGame.com, the Hall of Fame running back was asked for his thoughts on former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is currently absent from an NFL roster after choosing to kneel during the playing of the national anthem throughout the 2016 season. Brown seemed to take issue with Kaepernick's activism, stating that when a player signs with a team, he should abide by its rules.
"Colin has to make up his mind whether he's truly an activist or he's a football player," Brown said. "Football is commercial. You have owners. You have fans. And you want to honor that if you're making that kind of money.
"You have to understand there's intelligence that's involved, OK? I can't be two things at once that contradict each other. If I sign for money, then the people I sign with, they have rules and regulations."
Brown, who has taken part in several social activist causes since his playing career came to an end in 1965, then turned his attention toward the national anthem protests, which began with Kaepernick's attempt to bring awareness to what he saw as racial injustice in America.
"I'm going to give you the real deal: I'm an American," Brown said. "I don't desecrate my flag and my national anthem. I'm not gonna do anything against the flag and national anthem. I'm going to work within those situations. But this is my country, and I'll work out the problems, but I'll do it in an intelligent manner."
On Monday, several Browns players knelt in prayer during the playing of the national anthem prior to the team's preseason victory over the New York Giants. The protest came a week after Cleveland coach Hue Jackson made controversial remarks stating that while he recognized his players' right to protest, he hoped that they wouldn't. Jackson later attempted to clarify his comments and said that the Browns players who protested on Monday did so after meeting with him.
“I just want to start by saying it saddens me that in 2017 we have to do something like that. I personally would like to say that I love this country, I love our national anthem, I am very grateful for the men and women who have given their lives and give a lot every day to protect this country and to service this country. I want to honor them as much as I can. The United States is the greatest country in the world, and it is because it provides opportunities to its citizens that no other country does," said Browns tight end Seth DeValve, who is the first white NFL player to kneel during the anthem.
"The issue is that it doesn’t provide equal opportunity to everybody. I want to support my teammates today who wanted to take a knee. We wanted to draw attention to the fact that there are things in the country that still need to change. I myself will be raising children who don’t look like me. I want to do my part, as well, to do everything I can to raise them in a better environment that we have right now. I wanted to take that opportunity with my teammates to pray for our country and also to draw attention to the fact that we have work to do. That’s why I did what I did.”