Baker Mayfield says he’ll ‘absolutely’ be kneeling during the national anthem: ‘If I lose fans, that’s OK’
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield said this week that he “absolutely” plans to join kneeling protests against police brutality and racial inequality during the national anthem when the NFL season picks back up.
Mayfield revealed his intentions to join kneeling protests for the coming season in an exchange with a social media user on Instagram earlier this week.
In a screenshot of the exchange captured and posted by ESPN writer and analyst Adam Schefter on Twitter Saturday, a fan could be seen telling Mayfield, “Please tell Browns fans you are not going to be kneeling this season.”
Mayfield told the fan in response, however, “Pull your head out. I absolutely am.”
Mayfield’s comments come as the debate around the kneeling protests, which began in the NFL during the 2016 season when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first took a knee to protest racism and police treatment of people of color in the U.S., has reignited amid widespread demonstrations following the police killing of George Floyd and more African Americans.
Floyd, an unarmed black man, died at the age of 46 last month after a white police officer was recorded kneeling on his neck during an arrest in Minneapolis. In footage of the moment, Floyd was seen telling the officer, “I can’t breathe,” as he continued to kneel on his neck for more than 8 minutes.
The same words were also said by Eric Garner, another unarmed black man, shortly before he died in 2014 as he was being held in a chokehold by police in New York City.
Mayfield shared a video on Instagram of him working out in a shirt with those three words written across the front earlier this week.
In a statement he posted on his Instagram Stories on Saturday, Mayfield addressed some of the criticism he received from fans after he revealed his plans to join kneeling protests during the national anthem when the season begins.
“Everybody so upset about my comment doesn’t understand the reason behind kneeling in the first place,” he said in the statement. “I have the utmost respect for our military, cops, and people that serve OUR country.”
“It’s about equality and everybody being treated the same because we are all human. It’s been ignored for too long and that it my fault as well for not becoming more educated and staying silent,” he added. “If I lose fans, that’s OK. I’ve always spoken my mind. And that’s from the heart.”
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