NFL Hall of Famer Jim Brown: I’d never take a knee for national anthem

Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown stands on the field during a halftime ceremony of a September 2014 game between the Browns and the Baltimore Ravens in Cleveland. Brown says he would never kneel during the national anthem. The 82-year-old Brown, who championed civil rights during his NFL career and became a social activist in retirement, said Tuesday night that he respects players' rights to do what they want but his preference is they would stand during "The Star-Spangled Banner." (AP file photo)

CLEVELAND — Jim Brown has spent much of his post-NFL career fighting for social justice and change.

However, the Hall of Fame running back would never kneel during the national anthem.

The 82-year-old Brown, who championed civil rights during his playing career and became an activist in retirement, said Tuesday night that he respects players’ rights to do what they want but his preference is they would stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

“I’ll never kneel and I will always respect the flag,” said Brown, who spoke before an HBO premiere of “Hard Knocks,” which chronicles the Cleveland Browns’ training camp.

Brown was asked how he would resolve the anthem issue, which has plagued the league for two years.

“Well, if you take the bottom line, what are we talking about? We’re talking about freedom to express one’s self, and if you don’t break any rules then you have that particular right,” he said.