Last week started out with a contentious threat from Cleveland’s police union that it wouldn’t participate in a Browns pregame ceremony for the national anthem, in response to many Browns kneeling for the anthem during a preseason game.
By Sunday, Browns players ran out of the tunnel with police officers, military personnel and first responders in a show of unity.
How the story took such a dramatic turn was told by Scott Petrak of BrownsZone.com. One of the most interesting points of how Sunday’s show of unity came about was that Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown, who was heavily involved in activism when he played, talked to the Browns players after the preseason anthem protest and, according to Petrak, Brown “encouraged them to find more appropriate ways to effect change in the community.” Brown, who is 81 years old, is still widely respected, especially in football circles.
Also, Browns co-owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam were credited for their involvement. A meeting between players and members of the Browns organization with Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams seemed to change the discourse.
“That’s incredible,” Browns cornerback Jason McCourty said, according to Petrak. “When your owner shows just that they’re willing to get involved, it means a lot to us. And I know it means a lot to the fans.”
Before the anthem was played there was a video played that included Browns players, calling for unity. All of the Browns players reportedly stood for the anthem on Sunday, standing with or locking arms with police officers and military personnel.
“We all are in this together, and that is what it is all about,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said, according to the transcript of his postgame news conference. “I think whatever has gone on in the past, we let all of that go. I really appreciate our organization reaching out and them reaching back out to us and us being united towards doing things better. That is what it is all about. We love our police department and our military and everything they do for us, and we respect what they do. I think we showed that today, and I think that we showed that we are all together in this.”
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