Group of NFL players kneel during National Anthem in largest protest yet, including first white player

Close to a dozen Cleveland Browns players kneeled for the playing of the national anthem during Monday night’s game against the New York Giants.

This is the largest anthem protest seen by the NFL since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the trend during the 2016 NFL regular season, in protest of the treatment of African-Americans by police in the United States.

What does the Cleveland Browns organization think of this?

The latest protest comes after Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson, who is African-American, voiced his displeasure at football players kneeling during the anthem.

“I would hope that we don’t have those issues,” Jackson said last week about his team.

Jackson, however, clarified his original comments and two days later reframed his argument.

About his team kneeling during the national anthem, Jackson added, “There are issues in our country right now that are far bigger than football and I understand and respect that these issues impact our players and will compel them to react in many different ways.”

Jackson noted that many NFL players have “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.”

Concluding that he has “respect” for “any individual decision, as ultimately it would be the player’s choice after much thoughtful dialogue,” he expressed his disappointment that his initial remarks were taken out of context.

A statement from the Browns organization on Monday read:

“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.”

Who is the first white player who knelt in solidarity with his African-American teammates?

Tight end Seth DeValve, the first white player to kneel for the national anthem, is married to an African-American woman and spoke with ESPN to clarify his intentions.

“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. “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.”

He added, “It saddens me that in 2017 we have to do something like that … I personally would like to say that I love this country. I love our national anthem. I’m very grateful to the men and women who have given their lives and give a lot every day to protect this country and serve this country. I want to honor them as much as I can.”

See the players kneeling in the video below.