CLEVELAND — Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield plans to kneel during the national anthem this season to support protests against social injustice, police brutality and racism.
In answering a post on his Instagram account Saturday that pleaded with him not to kneel, Mayfield responded: “I absolutely am.″
Mayfield has been outspoken about the need for more understanding and justice in the nation following the death of George Floyd, a black man, after a white Minneapolis police officer kept a knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest last month.
“It’s a pivotal time for change,” Mayfeld said Thursday. “What’s being addressed now obviously has been going on for a long time. So now everybody’s finally coming together to address it. And doing it the right way of holding people accountable.”
Mayfield wore an “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirt while working out, referencing the words Floyd uttered as the police officer, Derek Chauvin, kept his knee on Floyd’s neck. Later, Mayfield posted another message outlining his stance on kneeling.
“Everybody so upset about my comment doesn’t understand the reason behind kneeling in the first place,” Mayfield wrote. “I have the utmost respect for our military, cops, and people that serve OUR country. It’s about equality and everybody being treated the same because we are all human. It’s been ignored for too long and that it (sic) my fault as well for not becoming more educated and staying silent.
“If I lose fans, that’s OK. I’ve always spoken my mind. And that’s from the heart.”
The Bucs are scheduled to visit the Browns for their final preseason game Sept. 3.
On Friday, Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien said he would kneel with his players if they chose to do so during the anthem.
New Browns coach Kevin Stefanski last week said he would back his players in any peaceful demonstrations.
“My position is I want to make sure I support our players,” Stefanski said. “First things first, I want to make sure I sit down with them and talk. ... I can just promise you this, we will spend as much time as needed to make sure that we are all on the same page and we are a united front from a player, staff, you name it (standpoint).”
Stefanski attended a peaceful protest last weekend and has encouraged his players to “get in the arena.”
• • •
Coverage of local and national protests from the Tampa Bay Times
WHAT PROTESTERS WANT: Protesters explain what changes would make them feel like the movement is successful.
WHAT ARE NON-LETHAL AND LESS-LETHAL WEAPONS? A guide to what’s used in local and national protests.
WHAT ARE ARRESTED PROTESTERS CHARGED WITH? About half the charges filed have included unlawful assembly.
CAN YOU BE FIRED FOR PROTESTING? In Florida, you can. Learn more.
HEADING TO A PROTEST? How to protect eyes from teargas, pepper spray and rubber bullets.