Dee and Jimmy Haslam, owners of the Browns, are showing their support for quarterback Baker Mayfield and any other one of the team’s players who choose to kneel during the national anthem this season.
Before beginning his first practice of training camp on Friday, Mayfield claimed he maintains his decision to kneel at games and is not concerned with public backlash. The young quarterback was one of the first star NFL athletes to publicly announce he would be taking a knee in the upcoming season to protect social injustices.
In a statement, Mayfield said, “Right is right, and wrong is wrong.” He claims the human rights issue at hand has been going on for far too long and needs to be addressed.
On Sunday, owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam stated they fully support Mayfield and will continue to respect any other Browns player who decides to join him.
Dee and Jimmy Haslam were questioned about the situation over a Zoom call. Jimmy highlighted his respect and support for freedom of speech and players being able to express themselves. Because of this, Dee and Jimmy plan on supporting their athletes.
Ready for the Backlash
The Haslams are aware that their support for Mayfield’s actions and Mayfield’s actions themselves will receive a certain degree of backlash, but they are prepared and willing to take the heat. They are ready for negative comments from anyone who feels kneeling during the national anthem is unpatriotic.
Last season, almost two dozen Browns players knelt at a home exhibition, causing condemnations from area veteran groups. The team has dealt with a similar situation in the past.
Haslam emphasized that there is an important aspect of protesting being lost in the conversation and debate between kneeling or not kneeling. He explained he believes there is too much attention being put on these incidents than what protesters do afterward.
He thinks people must understand why others protest in the first place.
Jimmy Haslam emphasized that although he and Dee have the ability to issue “some great statement,” they hope individuals take a look at the bigger picture. He believes it is important for coaches, players, and the public to focus on essentially making the United States a better country and a better place to live for everyone.
In just the past two years, the Haslams have committed an extensive amount of time and funding to actively engage with Browns players to make an impact in the local community. The Browns have launched a social justice initiative to build stronger relationships between the Cleveland community and local area police, in addition to other community-focused programs.
Same Rhetoric, New Season
Although the Haslams acknowledge their support will come with backlash, they are more than willing to take the heat.
Jimmy Haslam emphasized the fact that debate and argument is truly damaging the message behind supporters’ actions. The most important thing, according to Haslam, is for individuals to listen and learn from one another.
During their Zoom call with reporters, Jimmy and Dee Haslam expressed their hopes of having Cleveland fans attend games at FirstEnergy Stadium amid coronavirus concerns.
Ultimately, this decision will be made by state legislation and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine.