If and when Baker Mayfield and other Cleveland Browns players kneel during the national anthem, team owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam will have their backs. During a Sunday video call, the pair told collected media that they believe kneeling and other avenues for protest are one of the things that makes this nation a world power, according to Tom Withers of the Associated Press.
“One of the great things about this country, one of the many great things, is the ability to have freedom of speech and being able to express yourself,” Mr. Haslam said. “So we are going to support our players.”
The Browns’ owners’ comments came just a few days after Mayfield made it clear he still intends to kneel during games. Earlier this summer, the quarterback had told the press he was going to be doing this particular kind of protest.
He cited the things that had been going on in the country and said people needed to stand up for what they believe in. At the time, Mayfield said he didn’t care if his actions led to losing fans, he was still going to do it because it was the right thing to do.
It appears the Haslams agree with their starting quarterback.
In fact, Jimmy said he’s prepared for the negative blowback to Mayfield’s stance. At the same time, he said he thinks there is something being lost in the shuffle: the real reason people are feeling like they need to stage demonstrations during the national anthem.
“Dee and I can issue some great statement,” he told the media. “But what you all really ought to look at is what ourselves, our coaches, our players are doing the rest of the week, if you will, to make this country a better place to live, work and raise a family.”
He went on to say that the arguments over kneeling is clouding what’s really happening. There’s condemnation from one side versus the other, rather than everyone trying to understand what’s happening. He added nobody ever tries to see why a demonstration might be important to Mayfield, or anyone else who kneels.
The Browns’ front office has been taking action against social injustice since this summer. General Manager Andrew Berry set up a Be the Solution campaign in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death and the subsequent demonstrations all over the nation.
Much like they support Mayfield’s intention to kneel this fall, the franchise’s owners are lending their full support to Berry’s efforts because, as they told the collected members of the media, they want more people to listen.