Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the first NFL player to silently protest the national anthem, first sitting then later opting to kneel as “The Star-Spangled Banner” was played before games. A few teammates even joined in.
After opting out of his contract in March, Kaepernick remains unsigned.
This preseason, other players have taken their own stand against social injustice by refusing to stand for the anthem. Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett and Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins have all demonstrated before games.
However, the largest group of players to protest anthem did so Monday.
At least 12 Cleveland Browns players circled up to pray and protest before a home preseason game against the New York Giants. The group included two white players.
“I wanted to take the opportunity with my teammates during the anthem to pray for our country,” tight end Seth DeValve told The Associated Press. “And also to draw attention to the fact that we have work to do. And that’s why I did what I did.”
DeValve and punter Britton Colquitt joined several of their black teammates in the circle.
Several fans and critics took to Twitter to discuss the Browns’ actions.