First White Player Takes a Knee During National Anthem as NFL-wide Protest Expands

Seth DeValve: ‘I Wanted to Support my African-American Teammates’

The national anthem protest by NFL players, initiated by Colin Kaepernick a year ago to draw attention to police brutality and racial strife across the United States, continues to grow in the 2017 Pre-Season. An unofficial count by ESPN lists at least twenty-nine players partaking in some sort of visual demonstration during the Star Spangled Banner during the second week of the league’s exhibition games.  Of those players documented, however, one is particularly noteworthy this week. Cleveland Browns tight end Seth DeValve became the first white player to take a knee since the movement began last August.

DeValve was one of eleven players vying for a spot on the Browns final roster to take a knee, joining Jamie Collins, Christian Kirksey, Duke Johnson, Terrence Magee, Isaiah Crowell, Brandon Wilds, Kenny Britt, Ricardo Louis, Jabrill Peppers, Calvin Pryor, and Jamar Taylor. But the second-year player out of Princeton University was specifically sought out by the media for being the first white player in the league to physically kneel during the National Anthem (Though other white players, like David Carr of the Raiders and the Eagles’ Chris Long have made other demonstrations during pregame ceremonies).

After the game against the New York Giants Monday night, DeValve told the press:

“The United States is the greatest country in the world. It is because it provides opportunities to its citizens that no other country does. The issue is that it doesn’t provide equal opportunity to everybody. And I wanted to support my African-American teammates today who wanted to take a knee.

We wanted to draw attention to the fact that there’s things in this country that still need to change. I myself will be raising children that don’t look like me, and I want to do my part as well to do everything I can to raise them in a better environment than we have right now.”

RELATED: NFL’s Colin Kaepernick Puts His Money Where His Mouth Is

DeValve, who recently married his long-time girlfriend who happens to be of African-American descent, made mention of the obvious fact: if he’s fortunate to have children, they may not look like him, nor share the same societal experiences he had as a child. But in the wake of the Nazi-inspired murder in Charlottesville on August 9, and the president’s inability to lay the blame solely on white nationalists, voices like DeValve bring a different dynamic to the debate.

Make no mistake, DeValve’s protest is no more valiant or courageous than that of his teammates or any other player who has taken part in the action. Kaepernick’s  inability to find work for this upcoming NFL season details exactly how these players are risking their livelihoods. But the optics with players like DeValve, along with Carr, Long, and others show a display of unity that the United States so desperately needs in this hypercharged, long hot summer.

Photo Credit: @AroundTheNFL on Twitter.com 

Ed Hanratty is a Reverb Press contributor and freelance political journalist. A lifelong New Jerseyan, he prides himself on having just enough Garden State sarcasm and skepticism to keep his bleeding heart in check. Keep up with Ed's work and random ramblings on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the links below...but not Snapchat — that's where he's decided to draw the social media line. (For Now)