NFL quarterback Baker Mayfield, #6 for the Cleveland Browns, has pledged to stand for the national anthem in the name of “respect, love, and unity.” While supporting his teammates in whatever stance they take, Mayfield has decided that kneeling is not an effective catalyst for change.
Taking to Twitter on Sept. 12, Mayfield explained, “After watching Thursday’s game and also watching the Dolphins players’ video, it shows that it is not about who is standing or who is kneeling for the anthem. But instead, coming together and taking action to create real change.”
Letters and messages in recent weeks served to reinforce his conclusion that kneeling “will only create more division or discussion about the gesture, rather than be a solution towards our country’s problems at hand.”
The NFL at large remains divided on the issue of kneeling.
Prior to the League’s opening game on Sept. 10, the Houston Texans remained in the locker room for the duration of both “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
Earlier that same day, the Miami Dolphins posted a video on social media announcing their own decision to sit out both anthems in the locker room. As a team, players claimed they “don’t need another publicity parade.”
The pledge to stand marks an about-turn for Mayfield, who previously stated his alliance with NFL players who chose to kneel during the national anthem. Responding to an Instagram comment from a fan in June, the quarterback said he would “absolutely” kneel during the 2020 season, in protest of social injustice and racism.
He added that he was prepared to lose fans over it.
Mayfield is a member of the Browns’ social justice committee, according to Cleveland.com, and a spokesperson for the team’s fourfold initiative: to improve education, effect police reform and accountability, support economic advancement and community support, and encourage nonpartisan voter registration.
But while the quarterback’s position changed from kneeling to standing over the course of three months, his intentions remain unmoved. The Browns, Mayfield said, have had several meaningful discussions about the nature of true change. His conclusion: change necessitates togetherness.
“My heart is even more passionate than it was months ago,” Mayfield wrote on Sept. 12, stating his position on Twitter, “due to the fact that we are not close to being where our country needs to be.”
“I love this country,” he clarified, “but these challenges and adversity are an opportunity for much-needed change for issues that have been going on for far too long … Our team is ready to fight for our goals both on and off the field.”
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