Browns' Baker Mayfield Will Stand for National Anthem After Planning to Kneel

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistSeptember 12, 2020

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield scrambles during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)
Bryan Woolston/Associated Press

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield announced Saturday that he will stand rather than kneel during the national anthem prior to Sunday's road game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Mayfield announced his plans via a statement on Twitter:

The third-year quarterback wrote, "I have been showed that a gesture such as kneeling will only create more division or discussion about the gesture, rather than be a solution towards our country's problems at hand."

Mayfield said in June that he would "absolutely" kneel during the anthem and said in August that he didn't have "any regrets" despite the fact that he received backlash from some.

Kneeling during the anthem has long been a hot-button issue in the NFL, and it has returned to the forefront this year following widespread protests in support of Black Lives Matter following the police killing of 46-year-old Black man George Floyd in Minneapolis in May.

The NFL was previously against players kneeling during the anthem, but it recently expressed support for players protesting racial inequality, social injustice and police brutality.

Prior to Thursday night's season-opening game between the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs, the Texans stayed in the locker room for the national anthem. Nearly all Chiefs players stood and some locked arms, but defensive end Alex Okafor was the only player to kneel.

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The Chiefs and Texans then locked arms in a moment of unity at midfield. Much of the discussion of the moment focused on the audible boos in response from the limited crowd at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.

In a video featuring several members of the Miami Dolphins this week, the team noted it will stay in the locker room for the anthem prior to its game against the New England Patriots on Sunday. The Dolphins called for an end to "fluff and empty gestures" in favor of real change:

There will be a great deal of pressure on Mayfield when he takes the field Sunday following a disappointing 2019 campaign.

Mayfield took a step back from his strong rookie year. He threw for slightly more yards (3,827 to 3,725) but had a worse completion percentage (59.4 to 63.8), threw fewer touchdown passes (22 to 27) and more interceptions (21 to 14) and finished just 6-10 as a starter.

Expectations are tempered for the Browns after considerable hype prior to last season. However, an upset win over the Ravens could get fans talking about Cleveland making the playoffs for the first time since 2002.