The Cleveland Browns are set to open their season in less than 24 hours, and Baker Mayfield has decided he doesn’t want to be a distraction leading up to the game. Mayfield announced he no longer plans to kneel for the national anthem this season, a few months after he made headlines announcing he wasn’t going to stand when the anthem was played. 

Mayfield gave a detailed explanation on social media for his decision: 

“After watching Thursday’s game and also watching the Dolphins players’ video, it shows that it is not about who is standing or who is kneeling for the anthem. But instead, coming together and taking action to create real change. Also after reading many letters and personal messages over the past few weeks. I have been shown a gesture such as kneeling will only create more division and discussion about the gesture, rather than  a solution toward our country’s problems at hand. With that being said, I am choosing to stand for both anthems to show respect, love, unity, to everyone involved. 

“I will respect my teammates no matter their decision. We have had meaningful discussions on what true change looks like and that change takes all of us being together. My heart is even more passionate than it was months ago, due to the fact we are not close being to where our country needs to be. I love this country, but these challenges and adversity are an opportunity for much needed change for issues that have been going on for far too long It’s going to come down how we handle adversity and taking advantage of our opportunities. 

“I am posting this now so it’s not a discussion on game day. And so the discussion can be how to better our country, instead of divide us. Our team is ready to fight for our goals both on and off the field.”

The Dolphins explained in a video why they will stand in the locker room for “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “Lift Ev’ry Voice And Sing,” seeking action rather than gestures in the fight against racial injustice. 

“We need changed hearts, not just a response to pressure,” several Dolphins players said in the statement. “Enough, no more fluff and empty gestures. We need owners with influence and pockets bigger than ours to call up officials and flex political power.”

The NFL already has a few teams revealing anthem demonstrations for Week 1, as the Houston Texans did not take the field for the “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” but they joined the Kansas City Chiefs at the 50-yard line prior to kickoff of Thursday night’s opener and locked arms in unison. Andy Reid, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson and J.J. Watt were at the center of the line and wished each other good luck before the contest was played. 

Coaches around the league have embraced their players’ decisions for anthem demonstrations in Week 1, which certainly will be addressed prior to kickoff of each game on the season’s opening weekend — and beyond. 

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