rodney mcleod

Inside Rodney McLeod's 'mind-blowing' talk with Dallas Goedert amid George Floyd protests

Inside Rodney McLeod's 'mind-blowing' talk with Dallas Goedert amid George Floyd protests

A number of Eagles players, current and former, have spoken up in the weeks since George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis and protests against institutional racism and police brutality swept across the nation, including here in Philadelphia.

One player who took to the streets alongside Philadelphia residents was safety Rodney McLeod, who protested in Center City, as did former Eagles safty Malcolm Jenkins.

Jenkins became the team's de facto leader on societal issues during his time in Philly, but with Jenkins leaving the Eagles this offseason, McLeod said this week that he's trying to take the lead and be an agent for change.

And that includes in his own (virtual) locker room.

McLeod appeared on NFL Network's Good Morning Football on Wednesday to talk about his role in the protests, and his conversations with teammates amid the ongoing protests:

The ninth-year safety said he's spoken to a number of Eagles, but one conversation in particular stuck out:

I had conversations with guys like Carson, Zach Ertz, [Jason] Kelce, Jake Elliott, and Dallas Goedert, and two guys who we all know have spoken out in a very powerful way and made statements were Zach Ertz and Carson. And I challenged them to not have their voices end there, to now take action. One thing I observed from them was their willingness to listen, and also being eager to learn more, to get out there in the front lines, to be a participant, and to stand alongside their brothers like myself. 

I had a very candid conversation with Dallas Goedert where he told me his first encounter with an African-American man was in college. It was mind-blowing for me to hear him say that, to think that neighborhoods or people's upbringings exist, because I come from a different background, where I've seen all different types of races, and I've encountered them all, and shared experiences with them. So you have to think that there are plenty of Dallas Goederts out there who, unfortunately, don't get the opportunity to experience the African-American man, and when they do, what is their perspective? How has that race been portrayed, either through the news or what they see on television, or what they're talking about in their homes?

That's quite a detail from Goedert. The 25-year-old tight end grew up in Britton, South Dakota, a small town with a population just over 1,200 and an overwhelmingly white demographic breakdown, so it makes sense.

McLeod, on the other hand, grew up around Clinton, Maryland, a town of over 30,000 with a majority African-American population.

It's really cool to see Eagles players of different backgrounds and upbringings coming together and having important conversations as a team during such a unique moment.

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Rodney McLeod expects Eagles teammates to join him in pregame demonstrations

Rodney McLeod expects Eagles teammates to join him in pregame demonstrations

Rodney McLeod said he thinks he will resume his demonstrations against racial injustice during the national anthem for the 2020 NFL season and he expects his Eagles teammates to join him. 

In an interview with ESPN’s Tim McManus, the Eagles’ safety said he isn’t exactly sure what form of demonstration he’ll use. 

“I think I will in some capacity,” McLeod said. 

McLeod was then asked if the majority of his teammates will join him:  

I would believe so. I think it’s important for us to continue this and not let this pass us by. So let’s take the right steps and that means committing ourselves throughout the 2020 season and further until we get change.

While Malcolm Jenkins became one of the national faces of the movement, McLeod also protested with him in 2017 by also raising his fist in the air. Those protests almost stopped entirely league-wide in 2018 after the NFL and the Players Coalition brokered a deal that included nearly $90 million for programs to battle social inequality. 

But just last week, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell admitted the NFL was wrong for not listening to its players back then. Goodell didn’t specifically mention Colin Kaepernick but did say the league will “encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest.” 

That message from Goodell came the day after many black NFL superstars posted a video demanding the NFL condemn racism and admit fault for not listening to its players before. 

The NFL on Thursday pledged another $250 million over 10 years to combat systemic racism and said it will collaborate with players for criminal justice reform, police reforms and economic and educational advancement. 

In recent weeks, in the wake of George Floyd’s killing, McLeod has been vocal. As protests against police brutality were held across the country, he spoke up. 

Several of McLeod’s white teammates have also shown their support in recent weeks. Most notably, Carson Wentz and Zach Ertz posted public messages. It’s unclear if either of them will join demonstrations this season, but that support means something to McLeod. 

“I respect those guys for taking the time to want to learn but also to listen and then on top of that now take action,” he said to ESPN. “Regardless of the backlash they might get from people in the world. It’s bigger than that. They understand and they were sympathetic to the moment.”

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Rodney McLeod says city can rise stronger from ‘pivotal moment’

Rodney McLeod says city can rise stronger from ‘pivotal moment’

Eagles safety Rodney McLeod on Monday morning released a statement through his social media accounts promoting peaceful protest and his belief that “we as a city can rise out of this pivotal moment stronger.” 

McLeod, 29, has been a vocal equal rights activist during his time with the Eagles. 

This statement from McLeod comes in the wake of the senseless killing of George Floyd, a black man, in police custody in Minnesota. McLeod previously released a shorter statement saying an “officer should protect and serve the community, not brutalize, and kill innocent lives.” 

McLeod’s statement on Monday comes as a response to the protests that in some cases, and for various reasons, have turned violent and destructive in Philadelphia and around the country the last couple of days. 

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As a black man, it’s been a painful and disturbing time throughout our nation and city; the ugly reminders of injustice and systemic racism will continue to haunt us as a country until we enact change. Peaceful protest, lifting our voices in solidarity, and civil-engagement are all a part of the change process. Defacing our communities only offers a shortcut to the progress we all want to see. I believe we as a city can rise out of this pivotal moment stronger, we have an opportunity to course-correct for our future’s sake, and together, each of us can reflect the attitude necessary to be better and do better. I am encouraging us all to speak our peace. #georgefloyd #justiceforgeorgefloyd

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Here’s the full text of McLeod’s statement: 

As a black man, it’s been a painful and disturbing time throughout our nation and city; the ugly reminders of injustice and systemic racism will continue to haunt us as a country until we enact change. Peaceful protest, lifting our voices in solidarity, and civil-engagement are all a part of the change process. Defacing our communities only offers a shortcut to the progress we all want to see. I believe we as a city can rise out of this pivotal moment stronger, we have an opportunity to course-correct for our future’s sake, and together, each of us can reflect the attitude necessary to be better and do better. I am encouraging us all to speak our peace. #georgefloyd #justiceforgeorgefloyd

Floyd, 46, was killed in Minneapolis last week when a police officer pushed his knee into Floyd’s neck for an extended period of time while he was handcuffed. The officer, Derek Chauvin, was fired and eventually arrested and charged with third-degree murder. 

McLeod previously joined Malcolm Jenkins during the 2016 and 2017 season by protesting during the national anthem as a demonstration against police brutality and racial injustice. 

Jenkins, now a member of the New Orleans Saints, joined marching protesters in Philadelphia this weekend: 

Like McLeod, several other Eagles and former Eagles have reacted to the death of Floyd. Perhaps most notably, quarterback Carson Wentz spoke out against “institutional racism” in a statement last week.

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