On Monday Night, in a show of unity, 12 members of the Cleveland Browns football team kneeled in prayer prior to their preseason game against the New York Giants.
The group formed a prayer circle behind the bench as they knelt with several other players joining their teammates, standing beside them and placing a hand on their shoulder in support.
Cleveland Browns tight end Seth DeValve is white, but he said one of the main reasons he wanted to take a knee and pray for the country, even more than just the recent events in Charlottesville, is because his wife, Erica, is African-American.
“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,” DeValve told ESPN. “So I wanted to take the opportunity with my teammates during the anthem to pray for our country and also to draw attention to the fact that we have work to do.”
“There’s a lot of racial and social injustices in the world that are going on right now,” rookie safety Jabrill Peppers told ESPN.com following the game. “We just decided to take a knee and pray for the people who have been affected and just pray for the world in general.”
Woah. A ton of Browns kneeling during the national anthem here pic.twitter.com/Qv6qSPs6kX
— Jordan Zirm (@clevezirm) August 22, 2017
Cleveland Browns teammates said linebacker Christian Kirksey led the prayer during the National Anthem.
“We did it out of respect,” Kirksey told ESPN. “No disrespect for anyone, we just felt like it was the right time and the need to do it.”
Kirksey is not shy about his faith and has shared many tweets that contain scripture or prayer. His twitter bio mentions Christian is from St Louis, and then is followed with the words “All Glory to God.”
Lord help me to seek you, instead of my own desires!
— Christian Kirksey (@Kirksey) April 15, 2017
The Browns won the game 10-6 over the Giants and are now 2-0 in the preseason.