Over the past few days, Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long and Seattle Seahawks center Justin Britt, both white NFL players, supported their respective Black teammates protesting during the national anthem by draping an arm over their shoulders. Neither Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr nor his defensive end teammate Khalil Mack protested during the national anthem, but Carr, too, wrapped his arm around Mack’s shoulder, in this case promoting racial solidarity.
That being said, none of the aforementioned white players protested themselves. But that changed last night during Monday Night Football preseason action between the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns.
Upwards of 12 Browns players knelt in a circle and prayed, while others stood with them in silent protest during the national anthem before the game. One of those players kneeling was the Browns’ white tight end, Seth DeValve, who explained his stance after the game last night.
“We took the opportunity to pray for our country and for the men and women in this country during that time,” DeValve said, as reported by Cleveland.com. “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.”
And it hits home with DeValve for another reason as well. The 24-year-old is married to a Black woman.
“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,” DeValve continued.
He further explained how the kneeling prayer in a circle during the anthem came about.
“Just the other day, guys started to talk about it,” DeValve said. “We should come up with something that we can do and try to get as many people involved to show that we support [Eagles safety] Malcolm Jenkins, [Seahawks defensive end] Michael Bennett, other guys around the league that are trying to use their platform and also doing things in the community to try to help and show we all want to try to come together as a nation and do better for ourselves.”
Last week, it was Bennett who called on white players to get involved, saying, it “would change the whole conversation.”
It seems like players such as Long, Bennett’s teammate Britt, Carr and most recently DeValve heard that call loud and clear.