How will NFL's new national anthem policy affect Eagles?

How will NFL's new national anthem policy affect Eagles?

The NFL has adopted a new policy it hopes will eliminate on-field protests during the national anthem. 

Sparked by Colin Kaepernick and then various other players in the NFL, demonstrations during the anthem had popped up in many cities over the last couple of NFL seasons. It also included the Eagles as Malcolm Jenkins led the charge of demonstrating against social injustice in an attempt to further discussion about racism in the United States. 

At one point before last season, Jenkins questioned whether or not he would continue his protest, not because he didn’t believe in his cause, but because he was concerned the focus was being placed on the demonstration rather than the reason for it. 

This policy attempts to eliminate demonstrations, seemingly without addressing the impetus for them. 

“It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were patriotic,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement released by the league. “This is not and was never the case. 

“This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem. Personnel who choose to not stand for the Anthem may stay in the locker room until after the Anthem has been performed.” 

Here are the specifics of the policy: 

1. All team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.

2. The Game Operations Manual will be revised to remove the requirement that all players be on the field for the Anthem.

3. Personnel who choose not to stand for the Anthem may stay in the locker room or in a similar location off the field until after the Anthem has been performed.

4. A club will be fined by the League if its personnel are on the field and do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.

5. Each club may develop its own work rules, consistent with the above principles, regarding its personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.

6. The Commissioner will impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.

So what does this mean for the Eagles? 

Well, the Eagles have traditionally been one of the most socially aware teams in the NFL, with players like Jenkins and Chris Long at the forefront (see reactions to policy). Jenkins is the leader of the Players Coalition. 

During last season, Jenkins discontinued his anthem demonstration of raising his fist after he became encouraged by the NFL’s efforts regarding social injustice. The league pledged $100 million to causes aimed at combatting social injustices. 

This offseason, however, the Eagles traded for Michael Bennett, who sat through the anthem last season as a protest. Bennett has previously said he plans on continuing his protest, which would put the Eagles in an interesting position. 

Based on the new policy, the NFL will not fine individual players, but will fine the team of players who don’t show “respect.” It will then be up to the club to determine the punishment to hand down to that player, if any. Jeff Lurie is considered one of the more socially-forward thinking owners in the league, but this is tricky. The policy was said to be passed unanimously among those who voted -- including Lurie -- but 49ers owner Jed York abstained. 

The Eagles did not immediately have a comment on the NFL’s new policy. Lurie released a statement later Wednesday night (see story).

In the statement from the league, the NFL says the policy was created “in concert” with a commitment to local communities and that the league is dedicated to “continuing our collaboration with players to advance the goals of justice and fairness in all corners of our society.” 

But an NFLPA spokesman said their group was not involved in these discussions. 

Eagle Eye Podcast: What to expect from Andy Weidl?

Philadelphia Eagles

Eagle Eye Podcast: What to expect from Andy Weidl?

On this edition of Eagle Eye, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro discuss what Eagles' fans should expect from Andy Weidl taking over for Joe Douglas.

The guys break down their 53-man roster projection.

Also, Dave's international vacation plan.

1:30 - How does Andy Weidl fill Joe Douglas' void?
5:30 - Jeff Lurie's vision.
13:00 - Eagles' stability as a franchise has been a separator.
19:30 - Impact of Joe Douglas taking the Jets job.
29:00 - 53-man roster projection.

Subscribe and rate the Eagle Eye podcast: 
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Are 2019 Eagles better or worse at quarterback?

Are 2019 Eagles better or worse at quarterback?

The franchise quarterback returns, while a Philadelphia legend departs. Will the Eagles be better or worse under center in 2019?

Key addition: Clayton Thorson (draft, fifth round) 
Key departure: Nick Foles (free agent, Jaguars)

Why they could be better: Carson Wentz is finally healthy

Wentz’s struggles in 2018 – as much as a 69.6 completion percentage, 7.7 yards per pass attempt and 3:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio can be described as struggling – were easy to see coming. He was a third-year quarterback only nine months removed from a torn ACL and spent the majority of the offseason rehabbing rather than working on his timing in the offense and building a rapport with receivers. No doubt he was putting unrealistic pressure on himself, too.

The injury is finally behind Wentz though, as is the broken back bone that shelved him in December. He’s entering his fourth season, so his comfort level in the offense should be nearing its peak, and he has all spring and summer to get on the same page with his numerous weapons. With his health and contract situations resolved, all Wentz needs to worry about now is playing football – which, as you might recall, he’s pretty good at.

Why they could be worse: Unproven backup

The Eagles really like Nate Sudfeld. They promoted him from the practice squad to the 53-man roster during the 2017 season to prevent another team from signing him. They let him serve as the backup quarterback in the Super Bowl. And they tendered him at a second-round level as a restricted free agent this offseason, effectively ensuring his return while paying him over $3 million.

This will be Sudfeld’s third year in the system, so he should know what he’s doing at least. Yet, the fact is he’s attempted just 25 passes in the NFL. There’s simply no telling how good he is. It’s nothing like bringing Nick Foles off the bench. He had won 24 games, threw 66 touchdown passes and went to a Pro Bowl before adding Super Bowl MVP to his resume. Sudfeld has talent and familiarity with the offense, plus a quality supporting cast. He probably wouldn’t be a disaster, but could he save the Eagles’ season if called upon? Impossible to say.

The X-factor: Can Wentz stay healthy for 16-plus games?

People are quick to throw around the injury prone label, often unfairly, but Wentz has been seriously hurt in each of his last four seasons going back to college. He broke a bone in his throwing wrist at North Dakota State, suffered a hairline rib fracture in preseason during his rookie year (though he played all 16 regular season games), then had the ACL and the back. Injury prone or not, that’s an alarming trend.

These are unrelated injuries, so it’s possible Wentz has been unlucky. It’s also very likely the Eagles’ fortunes this season are hinging on this hope. Wentz could help himself by getting rid of the ball quicker on occasion or giving up on a few more plays. Then again, he’s the quarterback. He’s going to get hit sometimes. All anybody can do is wait and see if he keeps getting up.

Are the Eagles’ quarterbacks better or worse?

The overall talent in the room undeniably dips with Foles’ departure. Yet, ideally, Wentz is the only signal caller taking meaningful snaps for the Eagles, and he should take another step forward in 2019 provided he can stay on the field. This is a matter of perspective, but to me, having an MVP-caliber quarterback at 100 percent is far more important than the guys sitting on the bench. 


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