Opinion: A feeling of fabrication hinders Browns protests

Drew Taylor

Growing up a sports fan, I’ve always been a fan of athletes who are outspoken on issues close to them.

Whether it be J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans, who has raised millions of dollars in Hurricane Harvey relief money, or former NBA player Adam Morrison, who was a role model for other diabetic athletes, I’m happy to see athletes as well-rounded people, using their publicity for a cause they care about.

So, something that caught my eye has been perhaps the most prominent case of this over the past year: NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the national anthem protests.

Kaepernick decided to kneel for the national anthem before games in protest of unfair treatment for people of color in the U.S., particularly by police.

While Kaepernick is currently unsigned by NFL teams, his protest ideas have spread to players like Marcus Peters, Mike Evans and, most recently, a group of Cleveland Browns players.

Twelve Browns players, including starting quarterback DeShone Kizer and running back Isaiah Crowell, kneeled or placed their hand on a shoulder of a kneeling player as a form of solidarity before a preseason game against the Giants.

I applauded this gesture, a nonviolent form of protest meant to make people uncomfortable and force them to confront a problem that so many want to pretend doesn’t exist.

Yet, I found their latest move disappointing.

After some pushback from police unions, the Browns have planned for players to stand alongside police and military personnel during the national anthem in their season opener as a “show of unity” between the groups.

While this sounds like a great idea in theory, it’s nothing more than a weak public relations move for both the Browns and Cleveland police.

It is a symbolic gesture that doesn’t result in any real change in behavior by those criticized. While it’s nice to have a moment of everyone seeming to get along, it is a sham.

Drew Taylor is a columnist. Contact him at [email protected].