CHICAGO — As tenor Jim Cornelison settled himself before belting out “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Soldier Field in advance of Monday Night Football, Malcolm Jenkins and a few of his teammates raised their fists in protest.
Jenkins was joined by teammates Steven Means, Ron Brooks and Marcus Smith (see story).
This wave of anthem protests began with 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the preseason. Several other players from other teams have joined him in various ways.
“Everybody wants to be a part of it and I feel like it's no different on our team,” Jenkins said Friday on 94 WIP. “We got guys, especially myself, who feel very strongly about the topic.”
Jenkins, one of the more respected Eagles in the locker room, said several players thought about protesting during the anthem in the opener but decided against it because of the anniversary of 9/11.
The next day, he clarified his comments and talked in greater detail about his plans in a 15-minute interview by his locker at the NovaCare Complex.
There was a thought that the entire Eagles team would do something during the anthem together, but that didn’t happen.
Here’s what Jenkins said on Saturday, when asked about the importance of not causing a locker room divide by the protest:
“It’s important, but you obviously walk a fine line. Your goal is not to divide people but the goal is also not to beat around the bush. If it comes down to making somebody feel uncomfortable by speaking the truth, then I’d always make you uncomfortable with the truth than make you feel comfortable with a lie. It’s always a fine line to walk when you’re talking about a team atmosphere and making sure that your cognizant of the guys next to you, but at the same time, you know, this is bigger than football.”
If the entire team did do something together, head coach Doug Pederson said he would join as a sign of team unity. Jenkins spoke with Pederson last week and told him his plans.
“Malcolm, he’s a class act all the way,” Pederson said on Saturday. “He does a lot of things in the community here and he speaks out on a lot of things and he’s a great leader on this football team, and I appreciate him coming to me first and just letting me know.”