Last week before a Cleveland Browns exhibition football game, twelve players took a knee in support of Colin Kaepernick and his protest of the national anthem.
The team issued a neutral 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.”
But the anthem protest didn’t sit well with someone who many believe is the greatest pro football player in history. Former Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown, who made his mark not only in Hollywood but on the front lines of the civil rights struggle, spoke about the anthem protest to The Post Game:
Colin has to make up his mind whether he’s truly an activist or whether he’s a football player. Football is commercial. You have owners. You have fans. And you want to honor that if you’re making that kind of money. … I’m going to give you the real deal: I’m an American. I don’t desecrate my flag and my national anthem. I’m not gonna do anything against the flag and the national anthem. I’m going to work within those situations. But this is my country, and I’ll work out the problems, but I’ll do it in an intelligent manner.
All Browns stood for the National Anthem. pic.twitter.com/BBlDok62Zp
— Patrick Bateman (@NatcyLugosi) August 26, 2017
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.
#Browns radio said Jim Brown spoke to the team and told them "do not disrespect your country, do not disrespect the flag''
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) August 26, 2017
If you don’t know who Jim Brown was and what kind of a football player he was, here’s a sample.
Jim Brown was a civil rights proponent before it was cool. Through it all, he never lost his love of flag or country.
Brown was not saying the protesters were wrong. Only that their method of protest was wrong. I think that distinction is important because it’s people like Brown who set boundaries on what’s permissible and what’s out of bounds.
You don’t have to agree with Brown’s politics to admire him. His stand in favor of respecting the flag and the anthem only adds to his luster.