Cleveland Browns tight end Seth DeValve became the first white NFL player to not stand during the national anthem during the recent movement of using that moment before NFL games to make a statement against social injustices.
The second-year player joined 11 of his teammates to kneel in a circle behind the bench and pray during "The Star-Spangled Banner" before their exhibition game against the New York Giants on Monday night.
"I wanted to support my African American teammates today who wanted to take a knee," said DeValve, whose wife is African American.
He added: "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. 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."
DeValve said the recent events in Charlottesville, Va. — where a woman was killed while protesting a white nationalist rally — also played a part in his decision.
"It saddens me that in 2017 we have to do something like that," he said.
Coach Hue Jackson said the players discussed their plan with him beforehand and he gave them his blessing.
The other players who knelt as part of the prayer circle were linebackers Jamie Collins and Christian Kirksey, running backs Isaiah Crowell, Duke Johnson, Terrance Magee and Brandon Wilds, safety Jabrill Peppers, wide receivers Kenny Britt and Ricardo Louis and defensive back Calvin Pryor.
"There's a lot of racial and social injustices in the world that are going on right now," Peppers said after the 10-7 Browns win. "We just decided to take a knee and pray for the people who have been affected and just pray for the world in general."
Kirksey, who is said to have led the prayer, said: "We did it out of respect. No disrespect for anyone, we just felt like it was the right time and the need to do it."
Several others stood next to the kneeling players in a show of support. They include quarterback DeShone Kizer, offensive tackle Shon Coleman, defensive back Jason McCourty, offensive lineman Marcus Martin and punter Britton Colquitt, who is also white.
“As professional athletes, in our realm and with our platform, we can invoke a lot of change,” McCourty said. “Guys are trying to do something to stand on our platform and show people that we want to stand up for this country and show that no matter what your color is, no matter what your background is, whatever, we can all come together and work together to make it a better place.”
Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower, left tackle Nate Solder and running back Mike Gillislee all returned to practice Tuesday. ... Browns coach Hue Jackson expects to name his Week 1 starting QB today. Starting middle linebacker Tank Carder tore a knee ligament Sunday and will have season-ending surgery. ... Broncos linebacker Shaq Barrett returned to practice from a spring hip injury that Denver originally feared would be season-ending. ... Jets running back Matt Forte practiced fully and said there's “no doubt” he'll be ready for the opener. ... The Cardinals activated inside linebacker Deone Bucannon from the physically unable to perform list. ... Giants offensive lineman Michael Bowie has been charged with assault and battery in Oklahoma. Prosecutors say Bowie grabbed his girlfriend by the neck.
Associated Press contributed to this report.
4:50 p.m.: This report has been updated with other news from around the NFL.