Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Why It Doesn't Matter if Baker Mayfield Kneels

Browns QB Baker Mayfield told a fan on Instagram that he planned to kneel for the national anthem, before reversing course and announcing he would stand.
Browns QB Baker Mayfield told a fan on Instagram that he planned to kneel for the national anthem, before reversing course and announcing he would stand.
Image: (Getty Images)

Let’s get a few things straight off the jump.

Choosing not to kneel during the national anthems doesn’t mean you’re against the movement for equality and kneeling during the anthem doesn’t mean you’re truly for the movement.

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Enter Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield.

On Saturday, Mayfield wrote a statement on Twitter that said he will stand during the playing of both national anthems after he said a few months earlier on Instagram that he would “absolutely” kneel during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner. Mayfield made his decision to kneel before the NFL announced it would play Lift Every Voice and Sing, otherwise known as the Black National Anthem.

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Now, Mayfield is receiving criticism for changing his mind and not kneeling before the Browns 32-point loss to reigning MVP Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens.

I personally don’t have a problem with any player choosing to stand or kneel during the anthems, that is their individual choice. I’m far more interested in your viewpoints towards the actual issue and the tangible action that you are taking to thwart injustice.

For example, are you donating money to groups fighting against racism and inequality? Are you holding forums or panels to genuinely enlighten yourself and others on the issues that minorities face in this country every single day? Are you advocating for policy that will end racist laws?

Are you in the trenches fighting for your fellow man’s life?

And if you are doing these things, where is your consistency?

That’s what I care about. Whether a player knelt or stood is now trivial. It’s become too comfortable of a protest now anyway. I’m tired of getting bogged down in the minutiae of kneeling or not.

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Mayfield is getting crushed on social media for switching up, but it isn’t really productive.

I’m more interested in seeing what Mayfield is actually doing to help enhance the lives of Black people and other minorities in this country. Mayfield admirably gave $50,000 to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank to fight hunger during the early part of the pandemic.

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I would love to see that same energy given to fighting an issue just as serious as systemic racism. Maybe he has worked anonymously, or maybe I just missed it, but trust me: I’m looking for it.

I can’t make judgments about Mayfield simply for changing his mind. Miami Heat big Meyers Leonard, a white man, caught flack for not kneeling with his teammates a few months ago, but enthusiastically gave his support for the Black Lives Matter movement after the game. I didn’t criticize Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac, a Black man, early this year when he refused to kneel before an NBA game — I criticized him because his postgame comments about kneeling were allowing Christians to abstain from accountability in the movement for equality.

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The point here is simple.

I’m not going to make any judgments on Mayfield, and you shouldn’t either until we know more about where this man’s heart actually is on these issues.

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His decision against kneeling should not make or break the deal for us.

The deal-breaker should be Mayfield choosing to neglect the advancement of Black Lives and other minorities if the young quarterback actually were to do so.

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Mayfield, and all the trolls giving him grief, will all have to answer the same question. And it’s not “did you kneel?”

The question is this: Did you push forward the movement for equality?

It’s the only question that matters right now.

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