Baker Mayfield has made up his mind.
And he’s OK if it costs him fans.
The Browns quarterback said Saturday on Instagram he “absolutely” will kneel in protest of police brutality and racial injustice this season during the national anthem.
Mayfield posted a workout video Saturday on Instagram. Follower ohiog1 replied: “Please tell Browns fans you’re not going to be kneeling this season.”
Mayfield shot back: “pull your head out. I absolutely am.”
“THAT’S MY QB,” at.from.cle commented.
Mayfield returned to social media to expand on his thinking.
“Everybody so upset about my comment doesn’t understand the reasoning behind kneeling in the first place … Nate (Boyer) and Kap (Colin Kaepernick) came to an agreement that kneeling was the most respectful way to support our military while also standing up for equality.
“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 is my fault as well for not becoming more educated and staying silent.
“If I lose fans, that’s okay. I’ve always spoken my mind. And that’s from the heart.”
— Scott Petrak ct (@ScottPetrak) June 13, 2020
First-year coach Kevin Stefanski was asked Wednesday if the Browns would kneel during the anthem. While he said a decision hadn’t been made, he was clear he’d back his players.
“My big note to our players is that I have their back, and that is not just lip service,” he said on a Zoom conference call with reporters. “I am standing right there beside them. They have my support, and I promise you one thing, we will just continue to listen to each other from a place of mutual respect.”
Kneeling during the anthem remains a divisive topic, with many people insistent it’s disrespectful to the military despite those who have kneeled making it clear it’s to call attention to racial injustice.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last week encouraged peaceful protests after four years of frustration from many players for how the league dealt with kneeling and Kaepernick, the former 49ers quarterback who was the first to kneel and remains out of the league. Boyer is a former college football player and Green Beret who spoke to Kaepernick about kneeling rather than sitting during the anthem.
Goodell’s change was sparked by the protests and outrage that followed the death of George Floyd on May 25 when a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
“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 said of kneeling. “We want to make sure that we are constantly staying in the dialogue on these issues because it is not something that is just going to go away. We want to make sure that we are constantly, constantly looking at this in ways that we can do better.”
Stefanski attended a peaceful protest in Avon on June 6 and has encouraged his players to enter the “arena” and take action. Many have, including Mayfield, who signed the Players Coalition letter sent to Congress asking it to end qualified immunity, which makes it difficult to sue police officers for brutality, and has promoted products to raise money for Black Lives Matter and other organizations.
“It’s a pivotal time for a change,” Mayfield said Thursday during an Instagram Live video to promote Drink BodyArmor. “What’s being addressed right 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.”
Wearing an “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirt, Mayfield said he’s deciding how he can further effect change, including attending protests.
“It’s about teaching people. It’s much more than just writing a check,” he said. “That’s extremely important to fund that, but to teach the importance of equality and including everybody is the most important part.”
Receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry participated in a video demanding change from the NFL, and Beckham promoted “I Still Can’t Breathe” T-shirts that benefit Black Lives Matter. Defensive end Myles Garrett offered to help financially the families of David Dorn, who was killed during looting in St. Louis, and David McAtee, who’s believed to have been shot and killed by police in Louisville. Offensive lineman Kendall Lamm attended a protest.