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BEREA, Ohio — While proud of her husband for kneeling in prayer with his Cleveland Browns teammates during the national anthem, Erica Harris DeValve said the focus should be on racism and that he should not be looked on as a “white savior” Monday night.

Seth DeValve, a second-year tight end, knelt with 11 African-American players on Monday night in what they called a moment to pray for the nation in light of racial injustice.
“To center the focus of Monday’s demonstration solely on Seth is to distract from what our real focus should be: listening to the experiences and the voices of the black people who are using their platforms to continue to bring the issue of racism in the U.S. to the forefront,” she wrote in a post for TheRoot.com.

“Seth, as a white individual, never has and never will truly have to feel the weight and burden of racial discrimination and racial oppression. No white person does or will. But all white people should care and take a stand against its prevalence in this country. What I hope to see from this is a shift in the conversation to Seth’s black teammates, who realistically have to carry that burden all the time.”

Erica Harris DeValve is an African-American woman who will begin working toward her master’s degree in theology from Fuller Theological Seminary this fall, with a focus on the intersection of race and Christianity.

“Black players in the NFL cannot just turn their concern on and off in order to be able to focus more on football,” she wrote. “White players shouldn’t, either. Racism is a day-to-day reality, and I hope that, instead of holding Seth up on a pedestal, the response will be to do what he did: listen to the voices of the black people in your life, and choose to support them as they seek to make their voices heard.

“To the people who are looking at pictures of us and saying, ‘Oh, well, that makes sense,’ I offer a dramatic eye roll. People on Twitter have insinuated that it’s simply my appearance that inspired Seth to kneel with his teammates, or that I must’ve threatened Seth with leaving him or refusing to have sex with him if he didn’t join the demonstration. To even joke in this way is gross.”
Seth DeValve said he and his teammates — linebacker Chris Kirksey led the group in prayer — had not discussed whether they would continue kneeling at future games. Seth DeValve avoided social media since Monday, but said the reactions he received were mixed.
“Guys support each other on and off the field,” he said. “We care about each and each other’s lives. I myself care about this subject. I care about the guys that wanted to take a stand on this subject. That’s my role, first and foremost is to be an ally to them and play a supportive role.

“Like I’ve told some other people, the opinions on the topic of racism in America has been mixed for a couple hundred years. So it’s to be expected.”

Erica Harris DeValve wrote that her husband understands the issue and that it was the “responsible” thing to do.

“Seth understands how racism systematically oppresses people across this entire nation,” she wrote. “He understands that to be complacent about it is not just unacceptable as a ‘black wife’s’ husband; Seth supported his teammates because it was the right thing to do, it was the godly thing to do and it was the responsible thing to do. If I were white, he should have done the same, and I am confident that he would have.”

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A look at the highs and many lows in the first half of the season for the Cleveland Browns and what to expect in the second half:

Midseason MVP: Gary Barnidge has always been a dependable player who comes through when asked. This season, he has emerged as a standout. Barnidge ranked among the league leaders for tight ends in receptions, yards and touchdowns in the first half. He also was the Browns’ only true red zone weapon. Barnidge caught a TD pass in six of the team’s first nine games, and he had 100 yards in three of them. Barnidge’s play isn’t a total surprise, but his production has exceeded the hopes of anybody worried about the departure of Jordan Cameron via free agency.

Best moment: Late in the Tennessee game in Week 2, the Titans were threatening to get back in the game. Tennessee had cut a 21-0 deficit to 21-14. But Johnny Manziel(Johnny Manziel Jersey) dropped back, escaped a rush and found Travis Benjamin for a 50-yard touchdown pass that sealed the win. Manziel had his first win as a Browns starter, and his many fans had a game and play to epitomize their future hopes for Manziel. The team went back to Josh McCown as the starter the next weekend, but the excitement of that play at home lingers.

Worst moment: This happened off the field when Manziel and his girlfriend Colleen Crowley got into an argument while Manziel was driving. The incident wound up being reported to police via 911 calls. Though no charges were filed, the situation came after the Browns had shown a lot of faith and trust in Manziel following his 10-week stay in rehab in the offseason. The team minimized what happened; the league investigated. Instead of going through the 2015 season issue-free, Manziel had an off-field incident that raised questions about his judgment.

What’s the future?: The Browns lost their last five games of 2014 and then started the first half of 2015 2-7 — that’s 12 losses in 14 games over the two seasons. Prior to this season, owner Jimmy Haslam promised he would not make major changes even if the Browns struggled. Losing, though, tests everyone’s patience, especially when four first-round draft picks from the past two years are making minimal contributions. If the struggles continue, many will wonder if the Browns are headed for another upheaval, something Haslam definitely does not want.

Key to second half: The Browns aren’t going to win all eight, or even seven-of-eight, to make a playoff push. The team has major needs at receiver, running back and on defense, where the run defense has been worse than a year ago despite a major commitment to improve it this season. A team’s roster can’t be overhauled during the season, so the Browns have to find something within themselves to turn things around. The easiest argument to make is for the team to find out what they have in Manziel. Playing him would show whether the team can count on him in the future or if they need to keep searching for that elusive franchise quarterback. Staying in limbo only sets the team back another year if Manziel does not turn out to be the team’s long-term answer. But if they do that they’re about development, and if Manziel does not develop, will Jimmy Haslam live up to his preseason promise he was not going to “blow it up” after the season?