CLEVELAND -- During an Alabama rally on Friday, President Donald Trump said the National Football League should punish protesters who knelt or sat for the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “get that son of a b**** off the field.”
Those comments seemingly sparked an unprecedented number of protests throughout the NFL on Sunday, including the Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans refusing to take the field for the National Anthem.
Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer had a strongly worded response to President Trump’s comments following the team’s 31-28 loss to the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday.
“Once again, this is a tragedy in our country that we have to sit here and still have these discussions,” Kizer said. “I know for a fact that I’m no son of a b****, and I plan on continuing forward in doing whatever I can from my position to promote the equality that’s needed in this country.”
The Browns resumed their pregame protests almost one month to the day that they first expressed their frustration for a lack of social equality and police brutality.
Despite a chorus of boos from Colts fans, 21 Browns players knelt on the sideline while facing a field-sized American Flag and several others locked arms in a show of unity during the singing of “The Star Spangled Banner.”
And the Browns did protested with the full backing of the organization, as owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam released a statement of support of the players two hours prior to kickoff, and coach Hue Jackson echoed those sentiments in his postgame press conference.
“I’m not going to say it was emotional,” Jackson said. “I addressed it real quickly with our team, and I think they handled it. I think our organization made a statement about where we were today, and I stand behind that. Our players, I’ll stand behind them and support them all the way.”
Sunday’s protest marked the second time in which the Browns participated in a National Anthem protest.
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.
The preseason demonstration 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.
“We’re professionals,” Kizer said. “We keep our job our job, and things that we do off the field are handled individually.
“I think when the first thing happened with Colin, that the ultimate goal is to be able to use our platform as a league to bring attention to the inequalities that are out there in our country, and as we continue to move forward and the conversation continues to grow, I think we’re doing our job in terms of bringing the recognition to that.”