It may be too soon to call it a wave of new NFL player protests during the national anthem, with Michael Bennett and Marshawn Lynch joining some of last year’s employed holdovers.
But Browns coach Hue Jackson doesn’t want the ripples washing ashore on Lake Erie.
Via Dan Labbe of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Jackson said he respected players’ right free speech, he just hopes none of his players exercise it.
“I think everybody has a right to do, and I get it, but the national anthem means a lot to myself personally, the organization and our football team,” Jackson said. “I hope — again I can’t speak, I haven’t really talked to our team about it — I would hope that we don’t have those issues.”
“Those issues,” apparently include being opposed to segregation and racial intolerance, which seems an unusual stance for Jackson to take. It’s also hard to reconcile with known social justice warrior Roger Goodell’s call for understanding of dissenting voices.
Then again, the Browns have floundered around without known commodities at quarterback during Colin Kaepernick‘s continued unemployment, which makes Jackson’s stance seem like one that comes from somewhere above the coach’s office (in case we’re not clear with that inference, we mean owner Jimmy Haslam). Jackson had previously expressed admiration for Kaepernick’s talents when he was in Oakland, so it seems that one particular thing might have changed someone’s mind.
But the Browns coach said he was willing to talk to his players about such issues, you know, as long as they don’t do anything about it.
“I understand there is a lot going on in the world. I like to just keep it here. What we deal with, we try to deal with as a team in our closed environment. We talk about things,” Jackson said. “Hopefully, that won’t happen. I can’t tell you it won’t happen, but I just know our guys, and I don’t think that is where our focus is. We hope the things that are going on in the world get ironed out, but I know right now we are doing everything we can to get our football team better.”
Jackson’s words will have an obvious chilling effect on a young team, which has few truly secure jobs or players with the kind of weight to make a protest matter. And if they were influenced by Haslam, it should also shine a light on the reasons why some players feel it’s important to stand up for their rights and the rights of others.