Browns’ Baker Mayfield ‘Absolutely’ Plans to Kneel During National Anthem

In this Dec. 29, 2019, photo, Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield scrambles during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Cincinnati. The most compelling dramas in the NFL this season unfolded on the field, not off of it. And any thought that the league was in jeopardy of losing its spot as America's favorite sport has been set on the back burner. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

Bryan Woolston/Associated Press

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield said on Instagram that he will “absolutely” kneel during the national anthem this season:

Football Chopz @Pchopz_

Baker says he will be taking a knee this season. https://t.co/ph4TeJEELQ

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

“If I lose fans, that’s okay. I’ve always spoken my mind. And that’s from the heart.”

@bakermayfield on fans being upset with him for planning to kneel this season @brgridiron https://t.co/kyG9M28DRS

Mayfield added his name to a list of players and coaches who said they will kneel, including Washington running back Adrian PetersonChicago Bears safety Jordan Lucas and Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat or knelt during the national anthem during the 2016 season. He was joined by safety Eric Reid, among others.

Kaepernick received much criticism for the act, and the NFL even created a policy banning kneeling (it was eventually put on hold).

Kneeling during the anthem has received renewed attention amid worldwide protests against systemic racism and police brutality following the killing of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody on May 25.

The NFL appears to have changed its attitude toward protesting, with Commissioner Roger Goodell issuing an apology last week amid a video that also expressed the league’s support for Black Lives Matter:

NFL @NFL

We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black People. We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter. #InspireChange https://t.co/ENWQP8A0sv

“We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people,” Goodell said (h/t Deena Zaru of ABC News).

“We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter. I personally protest with you and want to be part of the much-needed change in this country.”

That video followed one from NFL players to the league in which they stated their right to protest and called on the league to support them and take a stronger stance against racism:

NFL @NFL

Players, we hear you. #StrongerTogether https://t.co/UJvS7AP0an

Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt also corrected a follower regarding his take on protesting during the anthem:

JJ Watt @JJWatt

A) don’t speak for me

B) if you still think it’s about disrespecting the flag or our military, you clearly haven’t been listening https://t.co/tnsEq5D9WC

Some players who were fervently against protesting during the national anthem have also changed their minds, including New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

The NFL regular season is scheduled to begin on Thursday, Sept. 10.

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