While Baker Mayfield ultimately opted not to kneel during the national anthem on Sunday, some of his Cleveland Browns teammates did.
Prior to Sunday's season opener against the Baltimore Ravens, three Browns players -- defensive end Myles Garrett, safety Ronnie Harrison and wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge -- knelt during the national anthem, which has become an action associated with protesting police brutality and racial inequality in recent years.
Speaking to reporters on a Zoom call after the Browns' 38-6 loss, Garrett explained his decision.
"Just a message," Garrett said. "No disrespect to anybody who's served or anybody who's in law enforcement or is serving right now. Anybody who's served that I know, I don't think they take it as a disrespectful thing. It's not that. If we continue to switch it up, we'll worry about that next week. By my decision to do that has no bearing on my game and it doesn't bear on my conscious either. After that, I'm in game mode."
The action of kneeling during the national anthem has been a hot button topic in the NFL since then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began doing so during the 2016 season to protest police brutality. In 2019, Kaepernick -- who has remained un-signed since the end of the 2016 season -- settled a collusion case with the NFL that alleged the league's owners conspired against signing him.
In the wake of George Floyd's death while in police brutality earlier this year, the 24-year-old Garrett has been outspoken about matters of police brutality and racial inequality in the United States.
"So much was made out of Kaepernick kneeling, yet this is what he was kneeling for while he was being criticized and now ostracized for his opinion," Garrett wrote in a social media post earlier this year. "That wasn’t and isn’t right. This has been years in the making and has lead to a build up of motions. People are fed up and are ready to have their voices HEARD. Heard by those who sit idly while this goes on and don’t listen to the voices of the scarred."