Seth DeValve became the first white NFL player to kneel during the national anthem last night.
The Cleveland Browns had numerous players kneel in a circle, apparently praying together, before a preseason game against the Giants.
Looks like Seth DeValve leading a prayer too. He does a lot of ministry work
— Ken Carman (@KenCarman) August 22, 2017
Linebacker Christian Kirksey, who led the prayer, told Cleveland.com that the players wanted to protest respectfully:
“You always have to, with everything you do, you have to have respect first and foremost and we did it in a way, we were saying a prayer. If anyone was wondering what was going on in that circle, we were saying a prayer and we were just praying over the country, praying over things that we were going on, we tried to do it as respectfully as possible and we respect everything that happened with people in the military, we respect all of that. We just felt it was the right time to do that, say a prayer, pray over this country.”
As for Seth DeValve, a tight end out of Princeton who was drafted in the 4th round in 2016, he stated that he thinks “The United States is the greatest country in the world,” but it is not without its problems.
DeValve explained his protest and his show of support for his teammates.
“The United States is the greatest country in the world. It is because it provides opportunities to its citizens that no other country does. The issue is that it doesn’t provide equal opportunity to everybody. And I wanted to support my African-American teammates today who wanted to take a knee. We wanted to draw attention to the fact that there’s things in this country that still need to change.”
The Browns tight end also spoke about his marriage to a Black woman and raising children of color in this country,
“I myself will be raising children that don’t look like me, and I want to do my part as well to do everything I can to raise them in a better environment than we have right now.”
— Coy Wire (@CoyWire) August 22, 2017
This is an important moment in the NFL. Last week, Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett said it would take a white player protesting to truly effect change.
Then Eagles defensive end Chris Long put his arm around his teammate Malcolm Jenkins as he raised his fist in the air.
— Caraun Akinó Reid (@ChopReid) August 22, 2017
On a micro level, white dudes like Chris Long and Seth DeValve are simply showing support for their teammates, but on a larger scale, they’re demonstrating how to be an ally.
It’s an important lesson beyond the football field.
For their part, the Browns issued a rather lukewarm statement about the protest.
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) August 22, 2017
Player protests aren’t going anywhere and will be one of the main headlines of the NFL season. I imagine Roger Goodell is rather butthurt about that… so that’s good.