More than a dozen players from the Cleveland Browns formed a circle on the sideline Monday night and prayed in silent protest during the national anthem. The group, which included veterans, rookies, starters, and backups, gathered in front of water coolers and behind their teammates who stood on the sideline shortly before the Browns hosted the New York Giants, per the AP. The protest was the largest so far in a social-consciousness movement started last season by quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who became a polarizing figure for kneeling during the anthem and is currently out of the NFL. "I wanted to take the opportunity with my teammates during the anthem to pray for our country," said tight end Seth DeValve, one of two white players to participate. "And also to draw attention to the fact that we have work to do."
In the Cleveland protest, DeValve, Jamie Collins, Christian Kirksey, Isaiah Crowell, Duke Johnson, Terrance Magee, Brandon Wilds, Jabrill Peppers, Kenny Britt, Ricardo Louis, and Calvin Pryor dropped to one knee in a huddle during the anthem. DeShone Kizer, Shon Coleman, Britton Colquitt, Jason McCourty, and Marcus Martin stood and supported their teammates by putting their hands on their shoulders. In recent days, Seattle defensive lineman Michael Bennett and Philadelphia defensive back Malcolm Jenkins also have called attention to what they feel is racial injustice in the country. Oakland running back Marshawn Lynch also has sat during the national anthem in the preseason, but he hasn't elaborated on his reasoning. (Read more national anthem stories.)