In a stark reverse of course from years past, the NFL this offseason has openly encouraged players to peacefully protest racism and the systemic oppression of black people in America. One more starting quarterback has revealed his intent to do just that, with the Cleveland Browns‘ Baker Mayfield writing on Instagram Saturday that he’ll “absolutely” be kneeling during the national anthem in 2020.
A Browns fan had responded to a workout video on Mayfield’s account with a simple request: “Please tell Browns fans you’re not going to be kneeling this season.” Eleven minutes later, the former No. 1 overall pick replied bluntly: “Pull your head out. I absolutely am.”
Mayfield won’t be the only big name to take the baton from former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began kneeling back in 2016 to protest police brutality and systemic racism. His remarks come a day after Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien said he’ll take a knee alongside players this season. Washington Redskins running back Adrian Peterson had previously indicated he — and many other NFL players — would revive kneeling and other on-field demonstrations in 2020. And some believe NFL commissioner Roger Goodell could even do the same as a sign of solidarity with the NFL’s black community.
Resistance to peaceful protests during the anthem has been few and far between, with only New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees notably taking a stance against kneeling earlier this month. Brees, of course, has since backtracked with several apologies to the black community, saying he now understands the protests have “never been” about the American flag. He’s also specifically addressed President Donald Trump, who’s repeatedly criticized player protests, saying “we can no longer use the flag to turn people away or distract them from the real issues that face our black communities.”