Baker Mayfield is the latest player to be told by someone on social media that he won't kneel in protest during this NFL season. The Cleveland Browns quarterback responded to a comment on instagram insisting he tell people he would not kneel. He responded he would absolutely kneel.
This is on the same day that Mayfield was photographed wearing an "I Can't Breathe" shirt while training. He's not the first prominent white player to be propositioned like this in what seems to be a bizarre trend on social media.
Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt responded to a fan who included him in a tweet about how he wouldn't kneel. Watt did not say he would kneel, but did correct the person about the meaning of kneeling as a form of protest. This was in response to the news that head coach Bill O'Brien would be kneeling with players.
Whether these are people who genuinely believe these players wouldn't protest alongside teammates for the sake of social justice or an attempt to incite reaction is unclear, but the result is the same. Big name white players are committing to protest or at least understand that the protest is not disrespecting the flag or troops.
While there is a divide in this country about what should be done about certain issues, there is a generational divide when it comes to civil rights and police brutality. There may be players who disagree with the protests going on in the country and kneeling during the national anthem, but the overwhelming sentiment is in favor of fighting for social justice and at the very least standing alongside teammates who are.
Baker Mayfield, at the very least, has been clear on where he stands before making this pronouncement on social media. Anyone taking even a cursory glance at things he's said or the things he's posted on social media in the past few weeks would know that.
Kneeling may be so mainstream by the time the season starts that almost everyone will do it at least the first week of the season, which will serve as a reminder about the battle that still continues in this country. At that point, it's less a protest than a fundamental understanding of what needs to change in this country.
Mayfield later released a statement about potentially losing fans over kneeling. In essence, he's always been himself and being himself can rub people the wrong way. He's okay with that, especially in a case like this one because he believes he is right.