While appearing on WIP this afternoon, safety Malcolm Jenkins said he anticipates some Eagles players will “definitely” make a statement during the national anthem before Monday night's game in Chicago.
When asked if he’ll join in, Jenkins said, “Most likely.”
“Everybody wants to be a part of it and I feel like it's no different on our team,” Jenkins said. “We got guys, especially myself, who feel very strongly about the topic. Last week, we talked about doing some stuff, but we wanted to make sure we didn't do anything to take away from the folks, the families that suffered from 9-11. We didn't want to mess with that day, so we left last week alone. But moving forward, I'm sure there will be guys that will probably join in.”
Jenkins said he isn’t sure how the protest will manifest itself, but he said he doubted anybody would kneel. Others from around the league have kneeled, raised their fists and locked arms. Jenkins and his teammates are still having discussions about how they want to approach the protest, if it will be an individual or a team demonstration.
This hot topic started when Colin Kaepernick, the 49ers quarterback, sparked national debate by sitting and then kneeling during the national anthem in the preseason. While his protest has continued, players from other teams and sports have joined him.
Kaepernick, after the story became national news, said he was “not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
If nothing else, Kaepernick’s protest, which has certainly gained steam, has created a dialogue inside and outside of NFL locker rooms. Former Eagles rookie Myke Tavarres, who was released at final cuts, originally planned to not stand for the anthem in the final preseason game, but then changed his mind. Jenkins was very supportive of his teammate last month.
Jenkins, 28, is an active and respected community member as well as one of the unquestioned leaders in the Eagles' locker room.
“For me, it has nothing to do with this country or the flag or the anthem in itself,” Jenkins said. “Really, it's just to continue to push for the conversation about social injustice. And that's a range of things from police brutality to wages and job opportunities to education. It's just a lot of things systematically that have been set up in this country, since its inception that really put minorities, especially African Americans, at a disadvantage, when you're talking about quality of life and actually growing in this country.
“So we want to continue to keep that conversation going and push it to as many people as we can. Obviously, while also doing our part in bringing forth change. And I think, obviously, this has been a hot topic and the more players that join in, the further this conversation goes. And I think after the initial shock of what happened and once everybody started to listen to what his message was, it's become a really good conversation that's going on nationwide. I think every player has an opinion and definitely wants to share, use their stage to do better.”
Jenkins said he talked with head coach Doug Pederson last week about what he and his teammates were thinking in terms of a possible stand.
“[Pederson] was OK with it,” Jenkins said. “He understands that we have the right to express our feelings and use our voices in whatever way we want to. But he definitely wanted that open discussion. With him, he's not shocked by anything. Although we chose not to do something last week, we're on the same page.”
On Aug. 29, the Eagles released a statement from Pederson in the wake of Tavarres’ short-lived decision to not stand during the anthem:
“We respect the national anthem, its history and our many freedoms as Americans that it celebrates. We also respect an individual's freedom of expression.”