When a dozen Cleveland Browns football players knelt during the National Anthem prior to their preseason game against the New York Giants last week, controversy erupted. Many criticized the move as disrespectful, while others praised it as brave.
As WKYC 3 reports, all Browns players and coaches stood up in respect for the National Anthem at Saturday night’s game. The change was the result of legendary Browns fullback Jim Brown meeting with the players prior to the game, urging them to not “disrespect” their flag and country.
In 2002, Sporting News named Jim Brown the greatest professional football player of all time. He’s a multiple NFL Most Valuable Player who broke most of his era’s major rushing records and led his team to a Championship in 1964.
Brown also has deep respect for America and its culture. Before meeting privately with the Browns on Saturday, Brown gave a public response to the protests. As covered by Christian News Alerts, Brown criticized Colin Kaepernick, whose protests inspired the recent actions of the Brown players, for failing to do activism in an “intelligent manner.”
Jim Brown’s remarks regarding Kaepernick, reported by Independent Journal Review, made headlines. He advised the former 49ers quarterback to stick to football, especially in light of the considerable money he’s made from the sport.
Brown said: “Colin has to make up his mind whether he’s truly an activist or rather he’s a football player. Football is commercial. You have owners. You have fans. And you want to honor that if you’re making that kind of money.
“I would advise the young man, if you’re a football player, play football. If you’re going to be a real activist, use your money, use your notoriety. You have to understand there’s intelligence that’s involved, OK? I can’t be two things at once that contradict each other.”
In speaking with the Browns team, the legendary fullback was brief and to-the-point: “Do not disrespect the flag, do not disrespect your country.” Whereas about 12 players protested the National Anthem at the preseason game, not a single one knelt at Saturday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
When Kaepernick first began drawing media attention with his activism back in 2016, Brown also commented on the situation, saying he was sympathetic to what Kaepernick was doing but was not supportive of his method of disrespecting the flag and anthem. Brown cited his pride for being an American citizen as the point of differentiation between himself and Kaepernick.
Brown said: “I’m an American citizen, I pay my taxes, I want my equal rights but this is my country, and consequently I don’t want to open up for ISIS or anybody that will take away what we’ve already gained.” As the Washington Post observes, Brown visited Donald Trump at Trump Tower shortly after the election and came away with a favorable impression of the real estate mogul-turned President.
“I fell in love with [Donald Trump] because he really talks about helping African American, black people and that’s why I’m here,” Brown said. “The graciousness, the intelligence, the reception we got was fantastic.”
In light of the upheaval Kaepernick has provoked, he has still not found a job. While the controversies he creates get him the attention of media outlets, they have done little to improve his chances with hiring managers, proving that there are, indeed, consequences for one’s actions.