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What Browns players said about kneeling, praying during national anthem

A dozen Cleveland Browns players knelt during the national anthem before Monday night's preseason game against the Giants. They were joined by a handful of teammates who placed hands on a teammate's shoulder.

Players said they knelt in prayer, a decision they made as a group in light of social ills and recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Here's what several of the players involved had to say about their decision to kneel and pray and to support their teammates.

LB Christian Kirksey, who led the group in prayer:

"We wanted to get together, take a knee and say a prayer, especially during a time that a lot of things are going on. A lot of our guys felt that it was right to do something, and that's what we did.

"There is a lot of stuff going on in society. Being in the NFL on this big platform, we can be a voice for a lot of people. We meant no disrespect to anyone. We just felt it was the right time, and we needed to do it."

QB Brock Osweiler, on his teammates' decision:

"We are a family, and I support every single one of those guys. I think we would all admit and be the first to say that we are all so fortunate to live in this amazing country. This is the greatest country on the planet. Those guys have the right to do whatever they want during the national anthem. That is certainly up to them to decide.

"Like I said, I support those guys, but me personally, the national anthem before a football game is such a special moment. It is a moment that I cherish greatly because so many people have sacrificed so many things just to allow myself and my teammates that amazing opportunity to go out there and play football. I will continue to stand with great pride and thank those men and women who have given us that sacrifice, but once again, I support all of my teammates regardless of the decision they make."

CB Jason McCourty, who stood next to his teammates who knelt:

"Just the other day, guys started to talk about it. Hey, like, we should try to come up with something that we can do and try to get as many people involved just to show that we support Malcolm Jenkins, Michael Bennett, other guys around the league that are trying to use their platform and also doing things in the community to try to help and show that we all want to come together as a nation and do better for ourselves."

Seth DeValve, who said he wanted to support his African-American teammates and who is married to an African-American woman:

"It saddens me that in 2017 we have to do something like that. I personally would like to say that I love this country. I love our national anthem. I'm very grateful to the men and women who have given their lives and give a lot every day to protect this country and serve this country. I want to honor them as much as I can. The United States is the greatest country in the world. It is because it provides opportunities to citizens that no other country does. The issue is that it doesn't provide equal opportunity to everybody.

"I wanted to support my African-American teammates today who wanted to take a knee. We wanted to draw attention to the fact that there's things in this country that still need to change. 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. That's why I did what I did."

S Jabrill Peppers:

"There's a lot of racial and social injustices in the world that are going on right now. We just decided to take a knee and pray for the people who have been affected and just pray for the world in general. People think that once you reach a certain level of stature or status in life that you're not affected by everything that goes on in the world. We just wanted to show everybody that it starts with us who have that platform, be able to make statements without actually saying anything. We just banded together.

"We got to unite some way. [There's] too much hate in the world. We just wanted to come together as men. We are all high-quality men taught to stand up for what you believe in. Everyone has different methods. This was our method. We were not trying to disrespect the flag or be a distraction to the team, but as men, we thought we had the right to stand up for what we believed in, and we demonstrated that."