Cleveland Browns tight end Seth Devalve has become the first white NFL player to kneel during the national anthem.
Devalve joined 12 Browns players, including Calvin Pryor, Isaiah Crowell, Kenny Britt, Duke Johnson, and Gabriel Peppers, before a game with the Giants in kneeling during the anthem to protest injustice for black Americans, TMZ reports.
Devalve, who said he believes America is the "greatest country in the world," knelt in support of his African-American teammates, Deadspin reports.
"The issue is that [the U.S.] doesn't provide equal opportunity to everybody, and I wanted to support my African American teammates today who wanted to take a knee," said Devalve. "We wanted to draw attention to the fact that there's things in this country that still need to change."
The Browns released a statement on the players' protest.
"As an organization, we have a profound respect for our country's National Anthem, flag, and servicemen and servicewomen in the United States and abroad," said a Browns spokesperson. "We feel it's important for our team to join in this great tradition and special moment of recognition, at the same time we also respect the great liberties afforded by our country, including the freedom of personal expression."
Devalve's protest comes after Michael Bennett called for a white player to step up and join black players sitting out of the anthem.
Bennett explained how one of the factors influencing his decision to protest was the Aug. 12 violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, where white supremacists held a violent rally that turned deadly.
"[The violence in] Charlottesville was the tipping point for me," said Bennett, according to CBS. "To see so much hate ... There was no way I could go out there and hide behind the game."
"It would take a white player to really get things changed," Bennett added. "Because when somebody from the other side understands and they step up and they speak up about it ... it would change the whole conversation."
"Because when you bring somebody who doesn't have to be a part of [the] conversation making himself vulnerable in front of it, I think when that happens, things will really take a jump."
The Seahawks' Justin Britt joined Bennett in protest, explaining that he had been affected by Bennett's words.
"What Mike said, and how he said a white player should do it, that kind of triggered in my mind, because I see what's going on," said Britt. "We all do. And we all have choices whether to be an example or be a follower. I always tell kids: Don't be a follower. Be the one they're following. So whether it's good or bad in some eyes, I feel like I'm just supporting my teammate, supporting why he's doing it and his reasons, and trying to encourage others."