CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Browns joined a long list of players and teams who have staged protests during the National Anthem on Monday night, and in the days following their decision to demonstrate on the sideline, there has been “a lot of mixed” reactions.
Prior to their 10-6 victory over the New York Giants on Monday Night Football, several players took a knee on the Browns’ sideline and others expressed their support by placing their hands on the shoulders of their kneeling teammates, and there has been plenty of discussion on both sides of the debate since then.
“There have been mixed opinions on this subject for hundreds of years, so it is the same today,” said tight end Seth DeValve, the first white player in the National Football League to join the protests.
“I actually tried not to look at a whole lot of anything, but I had some messages on my personal phone of people I know and love, which was nice.”
DeValve became the first white player in the NFL to take a knee during the National Anthem since the protests began with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick last August.
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 DeValve huddled in a circle behind their teammates on the sideline, knelt and held hands during the National Anthem.
Rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer, offensive linemen Shon Coleman and Marcus Martin, defensive back Jason McCourty and punter Britton Colquitt expressed their support while standing along the sideline in the same sign of support that has been seen around the NFL in recent games.
“We have tight-knit group in this locker room,” DeValve said. “Guys support each other, on and off the field. We care about each other and each other’s lives. I, myself, care about this subject. I care about the guys who wanted to take a stand about this subject. My role, first and foremost, is to be an ally to them and to play a supportive role.
“I think we did it a little differently than it has been done in the past. We wanted to take the time to pray for our country. It wasn’t something that was meant to be disrespectful to anything or anybody. It was something that was meant to take time out to pray for the status of our country.”
DeValve said the Browns “have not” yet talked about continuing their protest when they take the field against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium Saturday night. But should they again choose to demonstrate prior to the game, DeValve said it will not be a distraction.
“It has gotten a lot of attention the last 24 hours, but is your family life a distraction from football?” DeValve said. “We all have things outside of football. You time manage. You compartmentalize. You kind of be where your feet are, so to speak, and you focus on the task at hand. From early in the morning until 5 p.m. today, it is football. Later on, it is family and other things, but that is how it has been.”