Multiple Browns Players Kneel During National Anthem vs. Giants

Scott PolacekFeatured ColumnistAugust 21, 2017

Members of the Cleveland Browns kneel during the national anthem before an NFL preseason football game between the New York Giants and the Cleveland Browns, Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Ron Schwane/Associated Press

A number of Cleveland Browns turned heads before their Monday night preseason game against the New York Giants at FirstEnergy Stadium.

As Jordan Zirm of Bleacher Report and Complex captured, a large portion of the team knelt during the national anthem. Many had their backs to the field:

According to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, Jamie Collins, Duke Johnson, Seth DeValve, Kenny Britt and Ricardo Louis were among the players kneeling before the game. DeValve is the first white player to kneel during the anthem, per For The Win's Andrew Joseph.

Cabot also pointed out rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer placed his hand on the shoulder of one of the kneeling players, although he didn't kneel himself.

The Browns released a statement regarding the anthem protest, via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal:

"As an organization, we have a profound respect for our country's National Anthem, flag and the servicemen and service women in the United States and abroad. We feel it's important for our team to join in this great tradition and special moment of recognition, at the same time we also respect the great liberties afforded by our country including the freedom of personal expression."

Browns head coach Hue Jackson talked about the protest after the game, via Zac Jackson of The Athletic: "We respect our players, we respect the flag. Those guys talked to me about it before they did it."

This comes after Jackson made controversial comments regarding the possibility of players on his team protesting during the national anthem. Dan Labbe of Cleveland.com noted Jackson's comments followed Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch and Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett sitting during the anthem before their respective preseason games.

"I think everybody has a right to do, and I get it, but the national anthem means a lot to myself personally, the organization and our football team," Jackson said, per Labbe. "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."

Jackson issued a prepared statement two days after his initial comments in an effort to clarify what he said, which Andrew Gribble of the team's official website passed along in full.

"I respect and support their right for peaceful protest," Jackson said. "... The intent of my comments was not to discourage individual expression from our players in light of a cause that moves them to personal expression. I'm disheartened that I gave anyone that impression because I did not speak with enough clarity."

While the Browns and a number of other NFL players have made headlines for protesting during the anthem in the preseason, then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick found himself in the center of many news cycles last year for kneeling during the song to protest police brutality and racial and social inequality in the United States.

Kaepernick is still not signed to a team with the 2017 season approaching.