Baker Mayfield will be taking a knee during the national anthem this year, and he doesn’t care if it costs him fans.
The Cleveland Browns quarterback said on Saturday that he plans to join with the players who take a knee during the anthem in protest of police brutality and killing of black men and women. The protest has gained a new wave of attention after the widespread demonstrations following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, with protests taking place in hundreds of American cities and small towns and spreading across the world.
Mayfield revealed his stance after posting a video on Instagram showing himself wearing a shirt with the words “I Can’t Breathe,” which other athletes — including LeBron James — have worn in the past to protest police brutality and killings.
One commenter said they hoped that Mayfield wouldn’t be planning to take a knee during the anthem this year.
“Pull your head out,” Mayfield replied. “I absolutely am.”
Mayfield would be one of the first high-profile white athletes to join the protest, which initially started with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and spread to a small number of other players. Many of those in current protests have praised Kaepernick for his efforts to bring attention to the issue and do so in a non-violent way, and public sentiment toward the former quarterback appears to be shifting. As The Inquisitr reported, a recent poll showed that for the first time ever, a majority of Americans said they agree with Kaepernick’s stance.
As The Guardian noted, Mayfield had already spoken out earlier in the week, calling for change and greater accountability for all people in the wake of Floyd’s death, echoing sentiments of those focusing on efforts to address and end systemic racism.
In a message on Saturday, Mayfield explained why he would be taking a knee and dispelling the criticism that taking a knee is about the American flag or members of the military.
“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.”
Mayfield said he would be sticking by his stance, even if it cost him fans.
“If I lose fans, that’s OK. I’ve always spoken my mind,” he said. “And that’s from the heart.”