Baker Mayfield put out a polarizing statement on Saturday, reversing course on kneeling for the National Anthem, something he was previously adamant about doing.
The Cleveland Browns quarterback said previously that he would “absolutely” kneel for the anthem with his teammates and had “no regrets” in that decision. He expanded on that during a training camp press conference in June.
“I think being in my position, which is a blessing, being out on a platform to where I can speak on issues that are just wrong. Right is right, and wrong is wrong,” Mayfield said then. “There’s a human rights issue that has been going on for a long time, and I believe in that. It’s nothing against military or anybody who served. Anybody that knows my history knows that I completely support military and the people that serve our country for the right reasons and do it for justice. The people that do not know that, that’s OK — just take your time and take a second to get to know me. It’s a human rights issue. There is right and there is wrong.”
In a statement that he released on social media on Saturday, Mayfield said that after reading many letters and messages he decided that kneeling is not the answer, with more attention being put on the action rather than the message behind it.
“After reading many letters and messages… I have been showed that a gesture such as kneeling will only create more division or discussion about the gesture, rather than be a solution towards our country’s problem at hand,” Mayfield wrote.
Mayfield is one of 11 players on the Browns social justice leadership committee. Mayfield’s entire statement is below.
— Baker Mayfield (@bakermayfield) September 12, 2020
Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam said they would back their players on social justice issues.
“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,” Jimmy Haslam said on a Zoom call. “So we are going to support our players.
“I think all too much attention is called to whether somebody kneels or stands or what their statement is, and not nearly enough attention is called to what they do afterward,” Jimmy Haslam said.
Baker Mayfield Ripped on Social Media for Reversal
Mayfield announcement was met with a mixed reaction, with many choosing to rip the Browns quarterback on social media.
“Baker Mayfield is another example of how NOT to be an ally,” Chris Williamson, an anchor for SNY, wrote.
Baker Mayfield is another example of how NOT to be an ally.
— Chris Williamson (@CWilliamson44) September 12, 2020
“Baker Mayfield says he’s now standing for anthem because kneeling would create more discussion. Is there anyone on the Browns who can explain to him why that’s a good thing?” Tom Angelo of the Palm Beach Post wrote.
Baker Mayfield says he’s now standing for anthem because kneeling would create more discussion. Is there anyone on the Browns who can explain to him why that’s a good thing?
— Tom D'Angelo (@tomdangelo44) September 12, 2020
“Baker Mayfield changes his mind to kneel AFTER fans boo a display of unity not even during the national anthem? This is peak white privilege,” Exavier Pope wrote.
Baker Mayfield changes his mind to kneel AFTER fans boo a display of unity not even during the national anthem? This is peak white privilege https://t.co/cnvncZE6Uh
— 𝐄𝐱𝐚𝐯𝐢𝐞𝐫 𝐏𝐨𝐩𝐞 (@exavierpope) September 12, 2020
Texans-Chiefs Booed for Moment of Unity During Opener
Video from the first game of the NFL season went viral as Texans and Chiefs players were booed as they stood with arms locked for a moment of unity.
“The moment of unity I personally thought was good,” Texans defensive end JJ Watt said, via NFL Network. “I mean the booing during that moment was unfortunate. I don’t fully understand that. There was no flag involved. There was nothing involved other than two teams coming together to show unity.”