Jim Brown Says He'd Never Kneel During Anthem, Won't 'Denigrate My Flag'

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistAugust 8, 2018

Former NFL player Jim Brown arrives for the inductions at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Ron Schwane/Associated Press

Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown said Tuesday that he won't kneel during the playing of the national anthem.

According to Tom Withers of the Associated Press, Brown said, "I'll never kneel and I will always respect the flag."

Brown added, "I am not going to denigrate my flag and I'm going to stand for the national anthem. I'm fighting with all of my strength to make it a better country, but I don't think that's the issue. Because what is the top side? Are you not going to stand up? This is our country, man."

The 82-year-old Brown has long been a leading activist in the sports world, dating back to his playing days as a running back with the Cleveland Browns.

While Brown made it clear that kneeling during the anthem isn't his preference, he acknowledged that doing so is well within the players' rights: "Well, if you take the bottom line, what are we talking about? We're talking about freedom to express one's self, and if you don't break any rules then you have that particular right."

Kneeling during the anthem began during the 2016 NFL preseason when then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick became the first player to do so.

In August 2017, Brown criticized Kaepernick and said he "has to make up his mind whether he's truly an activist or he's a football player."

With regard to Kaepernick kneeling during the anthem, Brown said, "I'm an American. I don't desecrate my flag and my national anthem."

Since parting ways with the Niners at the conclusion of the 2016 season, Kaepernick has gone unsigned.

In May, the NFL instituted a new policy that would result in teams being fined if their players or personnel protested during "The Star-Spangled Banner." As part of the policy, players would be permitted to remain in the locker room during the anthem.

Last month, the policy was tabled so the league and NFLPA could negotiate a solution for both sides.