The 2017 NFL preseason has arrived and all eyes are on athletes across the league to survey who will — and will not — kneel in protest during the national anthem.
During Monday night’s game, 12 Cleveland Brown players took a knee to join players like Colin Kaepernick, Jason McCourty, Malcolm Jenkins, Michael Bennett and others who have denounced this nation’s treatment of African-Americans throughout its history.
Among those 12 Browns players was Seth DeValve, a White player from Manchester, Connecticut.
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DeValve’s action made him the first White player in the league to kneel for the national anthem, and he did so to show support for more than just his fellow teammates.
In a post-game interview, DeValve expressed that his action was to highlight the racial injustice that may one day affect his future children. His wife, Erica, is African-American.
“It saddens me that in 2017, we have to do something like that,” the 24-year-old said. “I personally would like to say that I love this country. I love our national anthem. I’m very grateful to the men and women who have given their lives and give a lot every day to protect this country and to serve this country. I want to honor them as much as I can. The United States is the greatest country in the world. It is because it provides opportunities to its citizen 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 are 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. I wanted to take the opportunity with my teammates during the anthem to pray for our country and also draw attention to the fact that we have work to do. That’s why I did what I did.”
DeValve and Erica met as college students at Princeton University where she was a cheerleader and he was a wide receiver. The couple began dating in 2015, became engaged in 2016 and tied the knot just this year in June.
The action of the Cleveland Browns players is the largest anthem protest in the league thus far since the protests began last season, but DeValve isn’t the first White athlete to act as an ally.
Last week, Philadelphia Eagle star Chris Long put his arm on the back of teammate Malcolm Jenkins, who raised his fist in the air during the anthem.
Long’s brother, Chicago Bears tackle Kyle, tweeted during the 2016 season that he has support for those who stand during the anthem and those who protest it as well.
We salute DeValve for his dedication to his children and to a better America