Players from the Cleveland Browns held the NFL’s largest national-anthem protest before a preseason game against the New York Giants on Monday night. After that Several players suggest that the entire team will protest against racial inequality and police brutality, joining the controversial movement ignited by San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Other athletes, including Megan Rapinoe of the U.S. women’s national soccer team, have sat in solidarity, but the Cleveland Browns could become the first team to protest as a whole.
A group of players kneeled together in a circle with their heads bowed and five more players stood by with their hands on the kneeling players’ shoulder pads during the performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Cleveland.com identified Kenny Britt, Jamie Collins, Isaiah Crowell, Seth DeValve, Duke Johnson, Christian Kirksey, Ricardo Louis, Jabrill Peppers and Jamar Taylor as being among the kneeling players.
“Whatever we decide to do will be a big surprise,” said Jamie Collins and added “Anything we want to do, it’s not going to be individual. It’s going to be a team thing. That’s what the world needs to see. The world needs to see people coming together versus being individuals.”
Crowell was a collegiate standout at Alabama State, and Louis played at Auburn.
Among the players standing with the kneeling group was Shon Coleman, who, like Louis, is a second-year player from Auburn.
NFL players have been sitting, kneeling or raising a fist during the national anthem since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started kneeling before games last year.
Kaepernick’s protest was intended to draw attention to incidents in which police had shot unarmed black men. Kaepernick has not been picked up by a team for the 2017 season, and some observers have attributed his lack of a roster spot to his national-anthem stance.
Violence surrounding a white-supremacist group’s demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, earlier this month has seemed to give rise to NFL players re-enlisting Kaepernick’s example at preseason games, but not previously on the scale seen in Cleveland on Monday night.
Two white players were involved in the Browns’ demonstration — DeValve with the kneelers and punter Britton Colquitt with those standing beside the group.