Before the Bengals faced the Green Bay Packers on September 24, 2017, George Iloka wanted to join Colin Kaepernick in kneeling for the national anthem. He discussed this with teammates, and some were inclined to do the same.
However, they were begged not to do so by owner Mike Brown.
WLWT News 5 reporter Elise Jesse sat down for an interview with us to discuss her recent article on what led up to Bengals players locking arms during the national anthem in Green Bay. She told us that Brown “emotionally” asked the players not to kneel.
Furthermore, Jesse reports that the Bengals owner implied that there would be financial consequences, which is why the players she interviewed chose to remain anonymous.
“Almost every player that I spoke to felt that if they would have taken a knee, they would have had their money messed with,” she said.
Preston Brown told her that he does not think he would have received an opportunity to play for his hometown team the next year had he kneeled while playing for the Buffalo Bills.
Jesse states that Brown was worried about how his particular fanbase would respond to kneeling.
“A few players had mentioned that he was worried about how the fans would react if they knelt. Cincinnati is pretty conservative, and they all made sure to reference that that’s what Mike Brown was worried about,” she said.
This is not the first big story related to Brown and kneeling. In May of 2018, free agent safety Eric Reid field a grievance against Brown for allegedly electing not to sign him after the former told the latter, upon being prompted, that he would indeed kneel. The grievance was denied later that year.