CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield plans to kneel during the national anthem this upcoming season to support protests of social injustice, police brutality and racism.
In answering a post from a fan on his Instagram account Saturday that pleaded with him not to kneel, Mayfield responded: “Pull your head out. I absolutely am.”
Mayfield has been outspoken about the need for more understanding and justice in the nation following the killing of George Floyd, a black man, while in police custody in Minneapolis.
“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. Later, he 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 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.”
On Friday, Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien said he would kneel with his players if they chose to do so during the anthem.
Earlier this week, while not going as far as O’Brien, new Browns coach Kevin Stefanski made it clear 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.”