The protest started by Colin Kaepernick to bring awareness and concern to the killing of unarmed black men, women and children by police has continued even though the free agent quarterback still doesn’t have an NFL home.
On Monday, before their game against the New York Giants, a dozen Cleveland Browns players took a knee during the playing of the national anthem while several players placed a hand on the shoulders of kneeling players in a show of support, ESPN reports.
“There’s a lot of racial and social injustices in the world that are going on right now,” Browns rookie safety Jabrill Peppers told ESPN. “We just decided to take a knee and pray for the people who have been affected and just pray for the world in general.”
Players said linebacker Christian Kirksey led the prayer.
“We did it out of respect,” Kirksey said. “No disrespect for anyone, we just felt like it was the right time and the need to do it.”
Seth DeValve, the first white NFL player to take a knee during the national anthem, told ESPN that the recent terrorist events in Charlottesville, Va., played into his decision but also added that for him, the stakes are higher because his wife, Erica, is African American.
“I myself will be raising children that don’t look like me, and I want to do my part as well to do everything I can to raise them in a better environment than we have right now,” DeValve told ESPN. “So I wanted to take the opportunity with my teammates during the anthem to pray for our country and also to draw attention to the fact that we have work to do.”
DeValve was joined by running backs Duke Johnson Jr. and Terrence Magee, safeties Peppers and Calvin Pryor, cornerback Jamar Taylor, receivers Kenny Britt and Ricardo Louis, linebackers Kirksey and Jamie Collins, and running backs Isaiah Crowell and Brandon Wilds (who were not in uniform).
“Those who stood nearby included punter Britton Colquitt (who also had his hand on his heart), cornerback Jason McCourty, quarterback DeShone Kizer, defensive tackle Trevon Coley and offensive tackle Shon Coleman,” ESPN reports.
Hue Jackson, the coach of the Browns, told ESPN that he stands by his players’ right to protest as long as it was peaceful and he knew in advance.
“We respect our players; we respect the flag,” Jackson said Monday night, according to ESPN. “Those guys came to me and talked to me about it before they ever made a decision to do it.”
Peppers added, “We were not trying to disrespect the flag or be a distraction to the team, but as men we thought we had the right to stand up for what we believed in, and we demonstrated that.”
This can’t be overstated: The man who started the protest; the one who, it now seems, risked his NFL career for what he believed in, is still without a job in the NFL while the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Blake Bortles, a man who couldn’t throw a damn jelly bean into a whale’s mouth if he were standing on the whale’s teeth, is gainfully employed.
Read more at ESPN.