More than a dozen Cleveland Browns players decided to organize a group protest of the national anthem before Monday night’s preseason game, and one player who took a knee explained the motivation behind the demonstration.

Veteran linebacker Christian Kirksey says he and his teammates were praying.

“If anyone was wondering what was going on in that circle … we were praying over the country, praying over things that are going on and we tried to do it as respectfully as possible,” Kirksey said, per Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal. “We respect everything that happens with people in the military, we respect all of that. We felt it was the right time to do that.”

Kirksey was among 12 Browns players who kneeled during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” while five other players stood beside the group in support. Tight end Seth DeValve became the first white player to take a knee since Colin Kaepernick began his protest last season.