Over the past month, hundreds of NFL players have been taking a knee during the national anthem before their games to protest against Donald Trump and against racial inequality. During a recent game between the Cleveland Browns and the New York Giants, eleven Browns players took a knee immediately after their coach warned them not to.
Just 12 hours later, this came back to bite them in a huge way.
Just before the protest, Head Coach Hue Jackson had warned that there could be fallout for the players who took a knee during the anthem. He said that he respected his players’ “right for peaceful protest; a right afforded to every American.”
“We’ve always made it clear to our players that they should embrace the platform they have as an NFL player to improve our community and use their platform in a positive, thoughtful and respectful manner,” Jackson explained.
He warned that players could come under what he thinks is “unfair scrutiny” for protesting the anthem, but the players protested anyway. He said that the problem with these protests is that spectators have made the focus on “whether or not a player is being disrespectful to the flag or military.”
“There’s a lot of racial and social injustices in the world that are going on right now,” rookie safety Jabrill Peppers said after taking a knee. “We just decided to take a knee and pray for the people who have been affected and just pray for the world in general.”
“We did it out of respect,” added Christian Kirksey. “No disrespect for anyone, we just felt like it was the right time and the need to do it.”
“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,” said tight end Seth DeValve. “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.”
The players who took a knee have been identified as DeValve, 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). This quickly came back to bite them when their coach made it clear that they would be punished for their actions.
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