NFL Stars Respond to Fans Who Think They Won't Kneel for National Anthem

John Healy
June 14, 2020 - 11:37 am

Some notable NFL players are throwing their support behind those who choose to kneel during the national anthem to protest social injustice and systemic racism, and at least one even plans on joining them.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield made it clear on Saturday that he will be among those players who will kneel this season.

Mayfield said it was his plan to do so while responding to a commenter on his Instagram page who asked the 25-year-old quarterback to tell Browns fans he will not be kneeling.

“Pull your head out. I absolutely am,” he replied.

The issue of kneeling during the national anthem has been a divisive one, with President Donald Trump continuing to also chime in as recently as Saturday saying he will not be watching the NFL if players kneel during the anthem.

While plenty of fans showed support for Mayfield, he was also attacked which led him to post further explanation on his Instagram story about why he’s kneeling and said that if he loses fans, “that’s okay. I’ve always spoken my mind. And that’s from the heart.”

Mayfield was still in college when Colin Kaepernick began the protest in 2016, but more players – and coaches -- appear to be supportive of the peaceful demonstration than previously.

Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt – among the biggest stars in the game – did not specifically say he would kneel, but was vocal in his support for those who choose to do so when a fan tweeted "pretty sure" you won't see Watt take a knee.

“If you still think it’s about disrespecting the flag or military, you clearly haven’t been listening,” Watt replied to a fan’s since-deleted tweet.

Watt’s head coach, Bill O’Brien, told the Houston Chronicle on Friday that he would kneel alongside his players.

“Yeah, I’ll take a knee,” he said. “I’m all for it. The players have a right to protest, a right to be heard and a right to be who they are. They’re not taking a knee because they’re against our flag. They’re taking a knee because they haven’t been treated equally in this country for over 400 years.”

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