CLEVELAND -- Throughout the 2016 season, players on the Cleveland Browns’ roster abstained from sitting or kneeling during the National Anthem, but prior to their preseason Monday Night Football appearance against the New York Giants, they made the biggest statement seen in the National Football League.
More than a dozen 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.
“Obviously, this is a sensitive subject in our country right now,” said quarterback DeShone Kizer, who took part in the pregame demonstration.
“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.”
Cleveland Browns battle New York Giants in preseason game at FirstEnergy Stadium
Wide receivers Kenny Britt and Ricardo Louis, defensive backs Jamar Taylor, Calvin Pryor and Najee Murray, running backs Isaiah Crowell, Duke Johnson Jr., Brandon Wilds and Terrence Magee, linebackers Christian Kirksey and Jamie Collins, 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.
Kizer, offensive linemen Shon Coleman and Marcus Martin, defensive back Jason McCourty and punter Britton Colquitt expressed their support while standing along the sideline, the same sign of support that has been seen around the NFL in recent days.
“I knew a couple of guys were going to be a part of it,” Kizer said. “I didn’t know how I wanted to be a part of it yet. I think it is an opportunity for me to support those guys and an opportunity to learn from it.”
It is the first time since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick protested during the National Anthem last August that any Browns player either sat or knelt during its playing prior to a game.
“I support all of my teammates,” quarterback Brock Osweiler said. “We are a family. We spend so much time together and we work so hard together. We are a family, and I support every single one of those guys. I think we would all admit and be the first to say that we are all so fortunate to live in this amazing country.
“This is the greatest country on the planet. Those guys have the right to do whatever they want during the National Anthem. That is certainly up to them to decide.”
Although Osweiler expressed support for his teammates, he remains committed to standing for the National Anthem.
“I support those guys, but me personally, the National Anthem before a football game is such a special moment,” Osweiler said. “It is a moment that I cherish greatly because so many people have sacrificed so many things just to allow myself and my teammates that amazing opportunity to go out there and play football.
“I will continue to stand with great pride and thank those men and women who have given us that sacrifice, but once again, I support all of my teammates regardless of the decision they make.”