Last week started out with a contentious threat from Cleveland’s police union that it wouldn’t participate in a Browns pregame ceremony for the national anthem, in response to many Browns kneeling for the anthem during a preseason game.
By Sunday, Browns players ran out of the tunnel with police officers, military personnel and first responders in a show of unity.
How the story took such a dramatic turn was told by Scott Petrak of BrownsZone.com. One of the most interesting points of how Sunday’s show of unity came about was that Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown, who was heavily involved in activism when he played, talked to the Browns players after the preseason anthem protest and, according to Petrak, Brown “encouraged them to find more appropriate ways to effect change in the community.” Brown, who is 81 years old, is still widely respected, especially in football circles.
Also, Browns co-owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam were credited for their involvement. A meeting between players and members of the Browns organization with Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams seemed to change the discourse.
“That’s incredible,” Browns cornerback Jason McCourty said, according to Petrak. “When your owner shows just that they’re willing to get involved, it means a lot to us. And I know it means a lot to the fans.”
Before the anthem was played there was a video played that included Browns players, calling for unity. All of the Browns players reportedly stood for the anthem on Sunday, standing with or locking arms with police officers and military personnel.
“We all are in this together, and that is what it is all about,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said, according to the transcript of his postgame news conference. “I think whatever has gone on in the past, we let all of that go. I really appreciate our organization reaching out and them reaching back out to us and us being united towards doing things better. That is what it is all about. We love our police department and our military and everything they do for us, and we respect what they do. I think we showed that today, and I think that we showed that we are all together in this.”
Harlem Lacrosse will honor Jim Brown at its annual benefit with the inaugural Trailblazer Award. This award recognizes his commitment to serving young people and encouraging generations of student-athletes to use education and athletics as vehicles for equality, justice and opportunity.
The benefit, which will take place on Thursday, Sept. 28 from 7-10 p.m. in New York City at the Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers, will highlight Brown’s many accomplishments as both an athlete and activist.
Widely considered one of the greatest athletes of all-time, Brown starred on both the football and lacrosse teams at Manhasset (N.Y.) and Syracuse, before setting numerous NFL rushing records during a storied professional football career.
Brown has since served both as an advocate for underserved, inner-city youth and for the sport of lacrosse. Inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1983, Brown was a special guest at the 2015 World Indoor Lacrosse Championship held at the Iroquois Confederacy in Onondaga, N.Y. More recently in interviews with
CBS’s Sunday Morning and ESPN, Brown discussed his relationship with the sport and praised Hampton University for becoming the first HBCU to establish a Division I lacrosse program in 2016.
“Jim Brown’s career and legacy serve as great inspirations to our organization,” Harlem Lacrosse CEO Mike Levin said. “We are committed to ensuring that our students have every opportunity to reach their full potential as students, athletes and citizens and we see this work as an extension of Mr. Brown’s legacy.”
The night will be a star-studded affair for the lacrosse community. Professional lacrosse stars Alex Aust, Katie Schwarzmann, Myles Jones, Casey Powell, Ryan Powell, Dylan Molloy and Jordan Wolf, among others, will join Harlem Lacrosse’s executive board, its alumni host committee, Hall of Fame coach Dom Starsia,
Princeton women’s coach Chris Sailer and 20 other college coaches serving on the benefit’s host committee to celebrate Harlem Lacrosse’s impact and reach.
“Harlem Lacrosse exists because the greater lacrosse community continues to come together in service of kids who deserve opportunity. This is one of the most beautiful things about our sport and our organization, and we are thrilled that over 500 people from this community will join us,” Levin said.
To learn more about Harlem Lacrosse’s mission and unique brand of school-based intervention programming, visit harlemlacrosse.org. Tickets to the annual benefit can be purchased here.
About Harlem Lacrosse
Harlem Lacrosse is an innovative school-based youth development organization whose mission is to provide a safe, structured environment for children to compete and learn while they develop into leaders for their community. Harlem Lacrosse operates 20 programs in Baltimore, Boston, Los Angeles, New York and
Philadelphia and currently serves over 800 middle school students. Our year-round programming empowers students to achieve their potential and break the cycle of poverty by providing daily study halls, academic intervention and push-in tutoring, career mentoring, leadership training, admissions counseling and vigorous, character-building lacrosse to engage and inspire students on the field, in the classroom and in the community.
Through a combination of academic and athletic rigor, Harlem Lacrosse has helped transform the educational prospects of our students, helping them to set and achieve goals that often seem impossible for children from disadvantaged communities. Harlem Lacrosse student-athletes have achieved average core class GPA increases of between 5-10 points each year and our wrap-around programming has helped maintain a 100-percent graduation rate among our middle school participants.
Since its inception in 2011, Harlem Lacrosse students have earned more than $24 million in scholarship offers from some of the most prestigious preparatory and secondary schools in the country and our alumni have gone on to attend top universities such as Bates College, Colby College, Connecticut College, College of Wooster, Gettysburg College, Haverford College, Hobart College, Tufts University, the University of Virginia and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.a