Eagles

Chris Long to Malcolm Jenkins: 'I'm here for you'

Chris Long to Malcolm Jenkins: 'I'm here for you'

Eagles defensive end Chris Long became the first white professional athlete to actively participate in the national anthem demonstrations designed to cast a light on racial and social injustices.

Before the Eagles' preseason game against the Bills on Thursday, Long put his arm around safety Malcolm Jenkins (see story), who has raised his right fist in the air during the playing of the anthem since last season. Long explained he felt it necessary to show support for the cause in the aftermath of violence in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia.

"It's been a hard week for everybody," Long said postgame. "It's not just a hard week for someone being from Charlottesville. It's a tough week for America.

"I've heard a lot of people say, 'Why do athletes get involved in the national anthem protests?' I've said before that I'll never kneel for an anthem because the flag means something different for everybody in this country, but I support my peers. If you don't see why you need allies for people that are fighting for equality right now, I don't think you'll ever see it.

"Malcolm is a leader and I'm here to show support as a white athlete."

Long spoke out about the Charlottesville protests on Sunday (see story), making the case that his stance is not about politics, but "right and wrong." One day earlier, protests over the removal of Confederate memorials turned tragic when a counter-protester, Heather Heyer, was killed.

After the events that unfolded, Long could no longer sit idly by.

"I was inspired by a lot of the allies that were there to stand up against hate in my hometown and I wasn't able to be there to protest or to stand up against hate," Long said. "People like Heather Heyer gave their life for that and I was inspired by that.

"I just told Malcolm, 'I'm here for you.' I think it's a good time for people that look like me to be there for people that are fighting for equality."

Jenkins said he was aware Long was going to take part in the demonstration and was appreciative of his teammate's backing.

"Before the game, he approached me and he wanted to, in his own way, send a message of support," Jenkins said (see video).

"I think he understands that he could never necessarily know my experience as a black male, but in the light of all that's going on, as a white male, he understands that he needs to be an ally. He expressed that desire to me, and so I thought it was appropriate to show that gesture of support."

Though Jenkins' demonstration has not garnered the mainstream national attention of some of the other high profile athletes who have sat or knelt during the anthem, he has been among the most outspoken. The Pro Bowl safety is involved in various social programs and has even spoken to Congress about social injustice in the United States.

"The biggest thing is to continue to call attention to the things in this country I think everybody after the past week has been focusing on," Jenkins said.

"If we want to eradicate hate from our country, drawing attention to not only the hate itself but the products of those hates. If you look at the long history of our country, and how especially in our justice system we talk about police and community engagement — the duality of our justice system right now, communities of low income and communities with color have completely different interactions with the justice system than that of our counterparts — and in the light of everything that's happening, just continuing that discussion."

Jenkins wasn't the only of Long's teammates to show respect for the stance he took. Eagles cornerback Ron Brooks, who himself knelt for the anthem Thursday, also took notice that another person was using their platform to further the cause.

Brooks didn't get too caught up in the fact that Long is white and anthem demonstrators have been predominantly black. Anybody who's willing to take a stand is needed.

"I'm not too concerned about whether it be a white person, black person, they could be Anglo-Saxon, whatever race, it doesn't matter," Brooks said. "Just him showing his support — I think a lot more people need to [act] and not just be quiet and let things go to the wayside.

"I admire Chris for standing up for something and show support for injustices that are going on. Whether the person was Malcolm, or whether the person had been [Carson Wentz] or anyone else, just that support and speaking up and using your platform."

QB clash in NFC title game is what makes sports great

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AP Images/USA Today Images

QB clash in NFC title game is what makes sports great

Life is just too darn predictable. Death, taxes, partisan politics, some form of Law and Order running on cable, Liam Neeson rescuing someone.

That predictability often seeps into the sporting world as well. Alabama playing for a national title, the Cleveland Browns playing for no title and the Patriots owning the NFL. We’ve been there, done that, too many times.

That’s why the Nick Foles-Case Keenum South Philly showdown for the right to play in the Super Bowl is an awesome, unexpected gift bestowed upon us by the sports gods.

Think about the premise of someone suggesting to you prior to the season that Foles and Keenum would be playing for an NFC title. You wouldn’t even have gotten to the point of laughing them off. You would have dismissed that person and probably sought an intervention for them before it even got to that point. But that’s what makes this matchup so unique. Take last year’s final four quarterbacks for example. Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady. Three Hall of Fame locks. With the exception of Ryan, all have won a ring and all are perennial Pro Bowlers. The blue bloods of the league. Predictable.

This year’s box of QB chocolates is what makes sports great. Foles and Keenum were overlooked, written off, one-time starters who washed out at their previous stops. Foles even contemplated retirement. Yet here they are, one guaranteed to be playing in their sport's ultimate game. If you throw Blake Bortles into the mix in the AFC, three of the four quarterbacks left standing would have been completely unthinkable prior to the season.

It’s also what makes this Eagles season and this run that much sweeter. Even if they had stayed healthy all season, few of us saw them playing for the right to take home the Lombardi Trophy. Let alone with Foles, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Jake Elliott and the fill-in crew. Foles' and Keenum’s success could also go a long way in dispelling the myth that if your starting quarterback goes down, your season is over. Granted, the Eagles, Vikings and Jaguars all have phenomenal defenses, which helps quite a bit. 

Both quarterbacks have their work cut out for them considering the ferociousness of those defenses they will be facing. But taking into account what both have been through to get to this point, I don’t think either will be daunted. One thing we also know for sure, the game and the quarterback matchup will be anything but predictable.

Lane Johnson using underdog status to raise money for Philly schools

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Lane Johnson using underdog status to raise money for Philly schools

How do you turn being a home underdog into a good thing? Use it as motivation to win a football game.

How do you turn being a home underdog into a great thing? Raise money for Philadelphia schools and win football games. That’s what Lane Johnson is doing.

After the nation doubted the Eagles against the Falcons, Johnson and Chris Long donned dog masks after divisional round win, embracing the role of underdogs. Now, Johnson has his own T-shirt and is raising money. A lot of it, too.

Shirts can be purchased at lj65.shop for just $18 and Johnson tweeted that more than 3,000 have already been sold.

Hopefully, the home dogs continue to eat this weekend against the Vikings.