INDIANAPOLIS (92.3 The Fan) – After President Donald Trump called on NFL owners to fire players who protest during the national anthem, several Browns and Colts players knelt prior to Sunday’s game in Indianapolis.
In calling for players’ employment to be terminated during a rally in Alabama Friday night Trump said, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired.”
Over 20 Browns players locked arms and knelt while the rest of the team stood with their arms interlocked during the anthem Sunday in protest of Trump. Among the players to take a knee were Isaiah Crowell, Jason McCourty, Jamar Taylor, Larry Ogunjobi, Ibraheim Campbell, Randall Telfer, James Burgess, Jabrill Peppers, Kenny Britt and Myles Garrett.
“To be referred to as what we were referred to as is, shocking,” McCourty said. “We can’t pretend that this isn’t going on because it impacts a lot of guys in this locker room [and] a lot of guys across this league.”
Quarterback DeShone Kizer chose not to kneel but he did lock arms with his teammates during the anthem.
“This is a tragedy in our country that we have to sit here and still have these discussions,” Kizer said. “I know for a fact that I’m no son of a bitch.
“I plan on continuing forward and doing what I can from my position to promote the equality that’s needed in this country.”
Less than 2 hours before kickoff running back Isaiah Crowell tweeted, “Military past and present & to those fallen we love & respect you, know this has nothin to do with your hard work, dedication & bravery. 💯”
After the game Crowell called Trump’s remarks “childish” multiple times while pledging not to call him names or “stoop to his level.”
Linebacker James Burgess, who started in place of Jamie Collins because Collins was out with a concussion, tweeted the strongest rebuke of Trump with a pair of tweets prior to the game: “It’s sad that our president would say something like that .. how could someone who who essentially rules the world view people like that👎🏾” followed by: “Smh he let me down I was actually a trump supporter !! Son of B******* not cool got get out of the chair man 🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾goes up to the man above.”
Burgess didn’t appreciate Trump’s vocabulary.
“Bad choice of words,” Burgess said. “It wasn’t a hate tweet. I don’t hate the dude. I was let down by those words. Those words made me feel uncomfortable when he said it.”
Rookie safety Jabrill Peppers was angered by Trump’s remarks but he didn’t want to get caught up in the political firestorm they’ve created by saying something that could also be inflamatory.
“My mom is not what he said,” Peppers said as he sat in front of his locker. “Just a bunch of contradictions with him. but I’m here to play football and not discuss politics. It is what it is.”
Prior to their preseason game against the Giants on Aug. 21, over a dozen Browns players knelt and prayed during the anthem in response to violence in Charlottesville, Virginia during a neo-Nazi and white supremacist protest march for which Trump failed to denounce racism in the aftermath.
In the wake of the backlash that their actions received, several Browns players engaged with Cleveland law enforcement officials prior to their regular season opener on Sept. 10 where they ran out of the tunnel with first responders and military members and locked arms with them during the anthem as a sign of respect and unity.
And that’s what the players are aiming to promote while those that criticize them for kneeling hide behind their anger over disrespect of the flag instead of joining them in being outraged over social injustices that the president has made clear that he fully supports.
“It has nothing to do with the flag whatsoever,” McCourty said. “My father served before he passed away, my brother fought in the Persian Gulf war, my stepdad fought in the Vietnam war. It’s no disrespect to a police officer, to a person that served in our armed forces. We have the utmost respect for those guys. They do something that we could never do or imagine doing.
“We think taking a football field and playing a football game is nothing compared to what those men and women do in sacrificing their life for us to have the freedom to use our speech, have a peaceful protest to fix the things that the flag does represent and that’s all we’re saying.”
At least 17 NFL ownership groups released statements denouncing Trump’s comments, including Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam who referred to them as “misguided, uninformed and divisive.”
Browns head coach Hue Jackson said after the game that he stands by his players as well as ownership with regards to the response.
The Pittsburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans and Seattle Seahawks chose to remain in the locker room prior to their games for the anthem while players around the league knelt during the anthem as a response to Trump’s inflammatory comments.