Browns' Baker Mayfield reverses decision on anthem kneeling: Gesture would 'only create more division'

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Baker Mayfield reversed his stance on the national anthem and announced Saturday he plans to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the Cleveland Browns take on the Baltimore Ravens.

Mayfield wrote in a statement he’s heard from fans and believes that kneeling would just add more division.

“After reading many letters and messages … I have been showed that a gesture such as kneeling will only create more division or discussion about the gesture, rather than be a solution towards our country's problem at hand,” he wrote.

“My heart is even more passionate than it was months ago, due to the fact that we are not close to being where our country needs to be. I love this country, but these challenges and adversity are an opportunity for much needed change for issues that have been going on for far too long. It is going to come down to how we handle adversity and taking advantage of our opportunities.

“I am posting this now so it is not a discussion on game day. And so the discussion can continue to be about how to better our country, instead of divide us. Our team is ready to fight for our goals both on and off the field.”

He said he also would stand for the rendition of the Black national anthem – “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

The third-year quarterback preached earlier in the year that he would kneel for the anthem and reaffirmed his stance last month.

“I think being in my position, which is a blessing, being out on a platform to where I can speak on issues that are just wrong. Right is right, and wrong is wrong,” he told reporters in August, according to ESPN. “There's a human rights issue that has been going on for a long time, and I believe in that. It's nothing against military or anybody who served. Anybody that knows my history knows that I completely support military and the people that serve our country for the right reasons and do it for justice. The people that do not know that, that's OK — just take your time and take a second to get to know me. It's a human rights issue. There is right and there is wrong.”

He even wrote on Instagram in June that he was fine with losing fans over his decision to kneel.

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On Thursday, the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans demonstrated before kickoff. The Chiefs locked arms during the Black national anthem and stood on the sidelines during “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The Texans didn’t come out of the locker room for either song.

The two teams then joined arms at midfield for a moment of unity before the coin toss. Fans appeared to boo the players during the moment.

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