In what appeared to be an organized protest, several members of the Cleveland Browns knelt together during the playing of the national anthem prior to the team's preseason game against the New York Giants on Monday night.
Among the Browns who could be seen kneeling were running back Duke Johnson, linebacker Jamie Collins, tight end Seth DeValve, safety Najee Murray, cornerback Jamar Taylor, safety Jabrill Peppers, wide receiver Kenny Britt and wide receiver Ricardo Louis. Some members of the team standing next to the apparent protest -- including rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer, punter Britton Colquitt and defensive back Jason McCourty -- placed their hands on the shoulders of their kneeling teammates.
Woah. A ton of Browns kneeling during the national anthem here pic.twitter.com/Qv6qSPs6kX— Jordan Zirm (@clevezirm) August 22, 2017
National anthem protests have grown in prevalence over the course of the past year in the NFL with players attempting to bring attention to what they view as racial injustice in America.
The Browns' protest comes a week to the day after Cleveland head coach Hue Jackson made controversial remarks regarding the increasing number of national anthem protests throughout the NFL. Although Jackson stated that "everybody has a right to" protest, he added, "the National Anthem means a lot to myself personally, the organization and our football team. I hope -- again I can’t speak, I haven’t really talked to our team about it -- I would hope that we don’t have those issues."
Hall of Fame tight end and FS1 "Undefeated" host Shannon Sharpe took Jackson to task for his comments, referring to the Browns' second-year head coach as a "clown" for saying that he hoped his players wouldn't protest.
On the final day of training camp last week, Jackson issued more than two-minute prepared statement clarifying his comments.
"I respect and support their right for peaceful protest; a right afforded to every American," Jackson said. "We’ve always made it clear to our players that they should embrace the platform they have as NFL players to improve our community and use their platform in a positive, thoughtful and responsible manner."
A significant portion of Jackson's team appears to have taken him up on his offer.