The Cleveland Browns are coming to Tampa for the first game played in Raymond James this preseason, and anthem protests are likely coming with them.

Joining several players around the league, 12 members of the Browns took a knee during the anthem of their last game against the New York Giants. Amongst the players kneeling was the first white player to do so since Colin Kaepernick’s initial protest last year, tight end Seth DeValve. A handful of other players stood in solidarity with their hands on kneeling players’ backs.

National anthem protests have become somewhat common in the NFL since former 49er’s quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s original protest last season. Kaepernick still finds himself without a job and many feel that this is solely because of his demonstrations last year, and not because of his on field production. On Wednesday over a thousand protesters gathered outside the NFL offices in support of Kaepernick, many donning his jersey. Along with the protesters, the NAACP has been supportive of Kaepernick, calling for a meeting with the NFL to discuss the issue.

Former 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick – Photo by: Getty Images

As if the case with the entire nation, social issues have been a topic of discussion amongst Buccaneers players and coaches this week in camp. There was a team meeting earlier this week that was held to discuss the anthem and the social issues in the United States today. The meeting was opened up, allowing both players and coaches to voice their opinions and anything on their minds regarding protests and social issues.

Head coach Dirk Koetter was tight lipped when discussing the specifics of the closed meeting.

“We did talk about that yesterday in our team meeting,” Koetter said. “I hope everyone can appreciate that there are some things that need to be said behind closed doors, and the players have to feel free to be able to speak their minds sometimes without any threat of repercussions. The main thing that came out of that meeting from my side, representing the coaches and the organization and the players, is that we have to respect each other’s opinion even if we don’t agree with it. I hope by the same token, everyone here can respect why I don’t need to…it’s not in our benefit. This is a nationwide and a worldwide issue. We’re not going to solve it in a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team meeting. For me to come out here and say everything that was said, that’s not the point. But we did talk about.”

Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter – Photo by: Taylor Jenkins

Dirk Koetter has made it a point to lend his ear to all opinions, whether they agree with his views or not, and won’t hold the opinions of his players against them.

“My personal view is on record,” Koetter said. “My personal view is, I’ll be standing on the 50-yard line with my hand over my heart. That’s what I believe in. We have plenty of guys that believe in that but, again, we’re not all the same. We don’t all come from the same place. We don’t all have the same background. We have to respect every man’s opinion.”

Veteran defensive tackle Clinton McDonald is far from a controversial figure and prefers to focus on his play on the field. McDonald’s mentality and focus is what has earned him a Super Bowl ring and kept him on NFL rosters, despite being a seventh round pick.

However, McDonald realizes the importance of recognizing social issues and appreciates Koetter’s respect for his players.

“When you are in the NFL your main objective is to go out there and hit, run, make tackles, score touchdowns and get sacks,” McDonald said. “For him to open up the floor on social issues was him showing his personal side. He is a human being as well as a coach and has a sensitive side to the issues that are going on. He allows us to have a voice and have a thought about it, which is probably more than a lot of coaches would have done. I think coach Koetter is a good coach and a good man as well.”

Bucs DT Clinton McDonald – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

While the state of racial relations will likely not be solved in a Buccaneers team meeting, it could be an important factor in bringing the team closer together. Teams rely on players being on the same page and that is hard to do if they do not respect each other. It remains to be seen if any Buccaneers will choose to take a knee Saturday night, but McDonald believes that despite whatever differences in opinions players may have, having open discussions about issues off the field is vital to the team’s success.

“It definitely does bring us closer together,” McDonald said. “When guys open their mouths and talk about things that are on their hearts, especially when it is key guys, they are talking and educating guys that are listening to what is going on, as well as educating themselves by listening. It always brings about a cohesiveness of the guys and how they feel. I felt the same way, it brings guys together. It makes them feel like, ‘you know what? We are a much tighter unit because everybody has the same feeling.”

– Article by PewterReport.com’s Austin DeWitt

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11 COMMENTS

  1. I will say this again; if you take a knee while the National Anthem is being played, you are disrespecting our Fallen. This is not the time to try to make a point. Any other time I’ll take a knee with you.

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    • I’ll say this again: that’s not true. It’s completely unrelated to “our Fallen”. Whether or not it’s the appropriate time to make a point is an opinion and, as is happening in the NFL, some people agree with the expression and the cause, some agree with the cause but not the expression, and some agree with neither. That’s all fine. But it’s arrogant and presumptive on your part to declare the meaning of the protest in such stark terms when many officers of the law and members of the military have specifically said that they don’t see it the same way you do at all.

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      • spank- I would have respected your reply except for the last sentence. Perhaps all beliefs to you are arrogant. People like you throw around words they don’t fully understand to often. Quantify your BS on “many” officers and military. I have been in oh, 50 precincts (give or take a few) in the past 6 years with my business, also a vet and been active with military personnel consistently. Sometimes these discussion arise and I can’t remember any that do not have pride in our flag or nation. Some more than others, but your idiotic statement regarding many is ludicrous to me. I get that people don’t have to stand and I can respect it in terms of why I love the flag; Liberty and Freedom. Hopefully when people who do not want to go to or watch teams or games because of it are given the same respect. That is what America is all about.

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  2. I’m not sure why the national anthem is so sacred that sitting during it is an insult to military people. Maybe it’s so deeply embedded in the consciousness in association with the families of those who have died in military service that it’s unavoidable. I can understand why it’s emotional in that case. But, the reason that people fight and die is for peace and justice… And let’s be honest, that just doesn’t exist for many POC… and all these white people would rather get butthurt over a national anthem protest than get upset about unarmed black men routinely getting shot, to go along with arrest, conviction, and sentencing inequities… The institutions of government have failed to promote justice for too many, and these kind of protests are intended to bring attention to these problems. Being more concerned about national anthem protests than about egregious racial inequalities is a special kind of blindness.

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  3. I’m just curious as to whether the same people complaining about the players kneeling or sitting during the Anthem are actually splayed out on their own couches and lazyboys during the performance? I think that Kap will eventually be signed by someone and I do think that he is talented enough to be a starting QB in the NFL. I would take him over, say, Michael Vick in his prime. I personally would rather see him as our backup over Fitzy. I hope that we don’t have to endure the trauma of him starting for us at any point during the season. He is a wise player and good guy, but an interception machine. I also hope that Dirt makes the the team this year as well.

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  4. It takes a lot of courage as a young black man in the NFL to put your career on the line and take a knee to make a statement about Racism in America. I will not criticize anyone who is willing to stand or to kneel. To each his own. I am just proud of our Nation either way. I wish we had more courage in this Country. And thank god we can still protest.

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  5. I think that either standing or kneeling can be justified. Personally, I stand for the anthem because our soldiers do. there is too much history in the stars and stripes//anthem for me to refuse to acknowledge it. Unified whites and blacks have fought and died together under the veil of the American flag.

    Racism isn’t just an issue in America – this is a global problem and it’s not new. Even though I don’t necessarily like the fact that others kneel during the anthem, I will never disrespect them b/c they are drawing attention to problems that simply cannot be ignored any longer.. Just my two-cents anyways..

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  6. For over a hundred years Graves Registration Mortuary Affairs, handle our fallen from the battlefields to Burial. Whatever it takes to retrieve our Fallen we will do even at the risk of our own lives. This is how much respect we have for the sacrifice what are Fallen have done. The beat of the drum starts when our Fallen are retrieved. We are with them until the last shovel of dirt is laid upon. Very few have had this honor in handling our Fallen. By taking a knee it is disrespectful not just for the Fallen, but also for the families friends and their fellow soldiers. I’m sorry but this is not the place and time to take a knee for a silly football game in protest any type of cause. The ones who disagree,disagree, I’m just telling you how disrespectful it is whether you agree or not.

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  7. I’d like to extend a big thanks to Austin DeWitt and Pewterreport for covering this without bias or opinion.

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  8. I truly don’t understand how anyone can think that someone protesting is somehow unamerican or is disrespecting the flag or our troops. If it wasn’t for a long standing tradition of protests like the Boston Tea Party all Americans would probably be pledging our allegiance to the Queen of England. Was the Boston Tea Party Unamerican? Protesting an injustice is the right of all Americans. No, protesting a wrong is our obligation as Americans. Those troops who came home with the American flag draped on their coffins would be the first ones to say they fought and gave their lives protecting our right to peaceful protest. This is supposed to be a country “Of the people by the people and for the people”. Unfortunately, this country is now for the billionaires, not the people. And the billionaires own the media so they put together stories like the one above to make people think protesting is bad. But it is only bad for the billionaires. It is good for us, the American people. So if you’re an American don’t let the propaganda of the billionaires brainwash you into being an obedient worker and just accept what the rich do to you. If you see an injustice perform your American duty and speak up and protest. And protest it loudly and proudly as is the long standing American tradition. Up with the PEOPLE!

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    • You are right you don’t understand. You can protest without having to protest our flag or our national anthem to get your point across.

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