Cleveland Browns tight end Seth DeValve is believed to be the first white player to kneel during the national anthem before an NFL game.
DeValve, a fourth-round selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, took a knee alongside a group of black Browns players prior to a preseason game August 21 against the New York Giants. He said he was taking part in a “prayer group” for the U.S. while the anthem was being sung.
“We took the opportunity to pray for our country and for the men and women in this country during that time,” he told reporters after the game.
DeValve is married to Erica Harris, whom he met while attending Princeton University.
Here’s what you need to know about Harris and DeValve’s relationship:
1. The Pair Met While Attending Princeton
Harris and DeValve had been dating for about two years before they got married.
According to their wedding profile on The Knot, Erica was the first one to notice DeValve. It was in a class the two had together while attending Princeton. Her account says that he went up to the front of the class and played guitar as part of a class project, and he immediately caught her eye.
While that was where Harris first took note of her future NFL husband, DeValve didn’t really notice her until he was at a worship ceremony at an on-campus church.
DeValve was leading the service at the church, which is located across the street from Princeton, and the two started talking. Their friendship continued to grow through Princeton Faith & Action, a campus ministry group that was founded in 2002. It gained official recognition as an official student organization at Princeton in 2005.
The organization implores students to take Bible courses and engage in weekly activities.
After one of the group’s weekly meetings, DeValve finally asked Harris out on a date. A few months later on May 10, 2015, he asked her to be his girlfriend, and they’ve been together ever since.
2. DeValve Proposed Days After Catching His 1st NFL TD Pass
DeValve’s life changed forever when he was selected by the Browns. While a ton of work goes into the profession, he’s always found time to spend with Harris, their social media accounts show.
Shortly after being drafted, DeValve hatched a plan to propose to Harris in quite a romantic and unique way.
According to their story on The Knot, the couple had conversations in the past about getting engaged, and Harris said she wanted his proposal to be videotaped and photographed. He wanted to pop the question in her hometown in New Jersey and found a way to do so before a game against the Baltimore Ravens.
DeValve said he purchased the engagement ring from a jeweler in Philadelphia before the Browns’ opening game against the Eagles and waited a few weeks until he had a chance to travel with her back to New Jersey.
That opportunity arose after the Browns played the Ravens on a Thursday Night Football game. During the game, DeValve caught his first NFL touchdown pass from Cody Kessler.
The Browns were given two days off afterward, and DeValve made the most of his opportunity. He wrote that he told her that Princeton had been waiting for an opening to document his journey to the NFL and experience at the university — which was untrue — for recruiting purposes.
While describing the plan, he told her producers wanted to interview her and get her side of his journey to the NFL and their time on the Princeton campus.
So, when the two arrived back on campus, the “producers” requested them to come to the football stadium on campus, where two chairs sat on the field and the surprise proposal would unfold.
“With the photographers hiding in the stands, the producer asked a few questions and then asked how we met,” DeValve wrote. “At that point I told the camera the story of how we met as the photographers snuck onto the field from behind.”
As he told the story of their relationship, he got onto a knee and popped the question while the camera rolled.
“Erica was speechless and elated, as was I,” he wrote.” We had a big party on campus afterward to celebrate.”
3. The Couple Got Married in June
Harris and DeValve set a wedding date for June 17, 2017 in Manchester, Connecticut, DeValve’s hometown. The ceremony took place at Trinity Covenant Church, while the reception was held afterward at Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville, a 35-acre wedding banquet facility.
Some of Harris’ closest friends and family members were part of the wedding, which was well documented in the video below.
The couple were registered at Target Sears, and Bed Bath and Beyond.
4. Growing up, Harris Participated in Gymnastics
Harris is part of Black Arts Company Dance, a hip-hop dance company at Princeton. It was founded in 1990 and has a mission of “spreading cultural awareness of the African Diaspora through dance, BAC has since grown to embody much more,” its “About” section says.
The group consists of over 30 Princeton students who all share in the same passion for dance. The group is open to all students, regardless of race or gender, and has a cast of dancers of “all backgrounds in dance, including lyrical, jazz, hip-hop, and no experience at all.”
Harris’ profile on the website says that she has done gymnastics since she was 4-years old and started hip-hop dancing while she attended high school in New Jersey.
5. Harris Graduated From Princeton with an English Degree
Harris graduated from Princeton in May as an English major. In addition to that, she also obtained a certificate of proficiency in African American studies along with 10 other graduates.
DeValve, on the other hand, graduated one year prior in 2016 with his fiancee in attendance.
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