Jim Brown reportedly tells Browns 'don't disrespect the flag,' all stand during anthem
Before last week's game, 12 Browns' players knelt during the national anthem
Five days after a dozen Browns players knelt during the national anthem to protest social injustice, every member of the team stood during the anthem prior to Saturday night's preseason game against the Buccaneers.
According to Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot, a large group of players stood arm in arm, but added that Browns legend Jim Brown spoke to the team prior to the anthem and that may have played a part in the players' decision to stand together.
The 12 players who knelt before last Monday night's game included tight end Seth DeValve, thought to be the first white player to kneel during the anthem.
DeValve, a 2016 fourth-round pick out of Princeton who is married to an African-American woman, said recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one woman dead and 19 injured, factored into his decision to join his teammates in protest.
"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 said after the game. "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."
Two weeks ago, Browns coach Hue Jackson said that he didn't want his team to protest during the anthem, but he later clarified his remarks and said he wouldn't be against it if any of his player decided to kneel.
"My personal feeling is that over the last season, we've seen players come under unfair scrutiny for protesting during the anthem, mainly because the focus has become on whether or not a player is being disrespectful to the flag or military and not on the issue and cause attempting to be addressed by the protest," Jackson said in a statement. "The intent of my comments was not to discourage individual expression from our players in light of a cause that moves them to personal expression. I'm disheartened that I gave anyone that impression because I did not speak with enough clarity."
By last Monday evening the Browns issued this statement:
"As an organization, we have a profound respect for our country's national anthem, flag and the servicemen and servicewomen in the United States and abroad. We feel it's important for our team to join in this great tradition and special moment of recognition. At the same time we also respect the great liberties afforded by our country including the freedom of personal expression."
And Jackson told reporters after the game, "We respect our players; we respect the flag. Those guys came to me and talked to me about it before they ever made a decision to do it."
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