national anthem

'Media storm,' 'clumsy,' 'afraid': Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Long don't hold back on anthem policy

'Media storm,' 'clumsy,' 'afraid': Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Long don't hold back on anthem policy

Less than a week after the NFL’s implemented a new policy with the hopes of eliminating on-field demonstrations during the national anthem, the Eagles were back at work. 

And there was still plenty of buzz about the policy. 

Not long after the NFL announced the new policy, Malcolm Jenkins released a statement condemning the new policy, saying the NFL aimed to “thwart the players’ constitutional rights to express themselves.”

A few days later, Jenkins hadn’t changed his opinion.

“No, I think it’s still a bad idea and something that was unnecessary,” Jenkins said Tuesday afternoon. “But now there’s a media storm the league has kind of brought on itself.”

That media storm was in full force in the Eagles’ locker room after Tuesday’s practice. Crowds of reporters surrounded Jenkins and Chris Long, two of the NFL’s more vocal and socially aware players.

“It’s their right, but I think it was a dumb move and I think it was clumsy,” Long said. “I don’t think it was rooted in patriotism. I love this country, I love our vets, the guys protesting love our country and love our vets. I think it was driven by fear of a diminished bottom line, which I already wrote on Twitter, you can see that on Twitter. The underlying factor is they’re afraid of the president. I don’t really need to expound much on that. It’s their right, again, but it’s a clumsy rule.”

Jenkins heads the players coalition, which last year worked together with the league to get a pledge of around $90 million for projects dealing with racial inequality in the country. Jenkins was so encouraged by the perceived progress that he actually ended his on-field demonstration late in the season. 

Now?

“It’s definitely discouraging because I definitely thought we were moving to a place where players obviously wanted a platform and we could create something that was maybe more effective and bigger,” Jenkins said. “I think there’s been a ton of effort and time put into creating that, but then there’s a decision that kind of undermines that. I thought the league genuinely was building that. But then when you start trying to mandate things, it’s less likely to help. …

“It’s definitely frustrating to see them make that decision but players have committed themselves to this work both on Sundays and every other day of the year, have been doing a ton of things. You just hope that, that was the focus of their decision-making and the focus of the coverage that has since followed.”

Jenkins and Long said they haven’t thought about whether or not they’ll protest during the anthem next season. They both said there will be plenty of discussions within locker rooms over the next few months.

Jenkins hasn’t yet spoken with Eagles owner Jeff Lurie since the policy was passed. Later in the evening the day the policy was announced, Lurie released a seemingly tepid statement that didn’t even mention protests during the anthem specifically (see story).

Meanwhile, Jets chairman Christopher Johnson released a statement saying he wouldn’t fine his players for protesting.

That stark contrast likely wasn’t lost on Eagles players, specifically Jenkins.

“I’m not sure how the voting and everything went,” Jenkins said. “You’ve seen other ownership come out with pretty strong statements with where they stand on the topic. And I think players appreciate those.”

The Eagles haven’t offered any recent update about their White House trip, but it’s still presumably scheduled for June 5. Jenkins said President Donald Trump's comments about protesting players, “Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country,” haven’t changed his view on going to the White House. He wasn’t going anyway “because of comments like that.”

Both Jenkins and Long said they understood that the league has the right to create policies like this, but both thought it was reactionary. Long said he envisions this whole saga getting “messier.”

“There’s already been a lot of backlash,” Jenkins said. “I don’t think anybody likes being told that they can’t speak up or can’t do something.”

Roob's 10 observations: Anthem policy, Kendricks' career, Wentz

Roob's 10 observations: Anthem policy, Kendricks' career, Wentz

Some thoughts on the NFL’s new anthem policy, Mychal Kendricks’ release, Carson Wentz’s return to practice and — of course — the Joe Callahan Stat of the Day!

It’s all in this week’s OTA edition of Roob’s 10 random Eagles observations!

1. The NFL’s anthem policy banning players from peaceful demonstrations during the anthem bothers me for a few reasons. First of all, it’s a dangerous precedent for the league to unilaterally restrict any such form of personal expression. Legislating opinions never works. Players are going to find other ways to express their opinions, and the policy is only going to breed resentment between the players and the league, which is the last thing the league needs right now. But more than that, I really have problems with the word “disrespect.” When someone arbitrarily decides what is and what isn’t “disrespectful,” you really get yourself in a lot of trouble. Nobody who’s listened to Malcolm Jenkins so eloquently discuss his reasons for raising his fist during the anthem would ever accuse him of being disrespectful. And also, since this is a policy that affects mainly African-American players, it has strong racial implications. These are issues that aren’t going to just go away, whether or not the NFL tries to make them disappear.

2. And I found Eagles owner Jeff Lurie’s statement uncharacteristically tepid and vague. Lurie has been courageously supportive all along of Jenkins, Chris Long and all the players league-wide who’ve used their platform to fight for equal rights and social justice. All that statement did was avoid taking a stand on the new NFL policy. Disappointing.

3. Onto football matters! There’s no question the Eagles are a better football team with Mychal Kendricks on the field. Kendricks was solid last year and very good in the postseason. But the bottom line is Kendricks has felt unwanted and disrespected for a long time. The Eagles have been trying unsuccessfully to unload his contract for a couple years, and Kendricks knew he had no future here. If a team doesn’t want a player and the player doesn’t want to be with the team, it’s not a healthy relationship. And that’s why Kendricks is gone. But Kendricks handled what could have been an ugly situation with class and professionalism, and he’s got a Super Bowl ring to show for it. He never became the Pro Bowl player I expected when I first saw him play in 2012, but he was a decent player here for six years, and he leaves as a champion.

4. Jason Kelce announced the start of the 5K at the Eagles Autism Challenge at the Linc in terrible conditions and parodied his Super Bowl parade speech: “They said it was too cold! They said it was too rainy!” Hilarious.

5. Watching Carson Wentz actually participate in individual drills at practice Tuesday morning was pretty wild. For him to be out there looking comfortable and fluid taking drops and firing passes just 5½ months after hobbling off the field at L.A. Coliseum was awfully encouraging.

6. I’m really starting to think Wentz plays Sept. 6.

7. One note about the Eagles’ linebacker depth. The days where teams ran three linebackers out there on every play are long gone. The Eagles last year played three linebackers on about 12 percent of their defensive snaps. In the Super Bowl, the Eagles played a total of three reps with three LBs. So if Jordan Hicks can stay healthy and Nigel Bradham plays like he did last year, the Eagles will be fine. Big if with Hicks. When the Eagles do play three ‘backers, I expect Corey Nelson to handle that role. Really, it comes down to Hicks staying healthy.

8. Career completion percentages of current Eagles quarterbacks:

82.6 percent … Nate Sudfeld
71.4 percent … Joe Callahan
61.5 percent … Carson Wentz
61.1 percent … Nick Foles

9. Was fun watching Mike Wallace run around at practice on Tuesday. Excited to see what he brings to this offense. He’s 31, an age where many receivers are slowing down, but he was one of just two receivers in their 30s last year who caught 50 passes and averaged 14.0 yards per catch (Ted Ginn was the other). And with Nelson Agholor and Alshon Jeffery here, he doesn’t have to be THE GUY. None of them do. That’s the beauty of this offense.

10. Potentially, this is the best trio of receivers the Eagles have ever had. Would you rather have DeSean, Maclin and Avant or Jeffery, Agholor and Wallace? I think this group is more versatile and slightly more talented. It’s close.  

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Jeff Lurie releases statement in light of NFL's national anthem policy

Jeff Lurie releases statement in light of NFL's national anthem policy

Updated: Thursday, 10:44 a.m.

The NFL’s new policy that aims to eliminate on-field demonstrations during the playing of the national anthem has been the biggest news of the day. 

The policy (outlined here) has been met with plenty of reactions, even from a couple notable Eagles players (see story)

On Wednesday evening, Eagles owner Jeff Lurie released the following statement: 

I have always believed it is the responsibility of sports teams to be very proactive in our communities. In this great country of ours, there are so many people who are hurting and marginalized, which is why I am proud of our players for continuously working to influence positive change. Their words and actions have demonstrated not only that they have a great deal of respect for our country, but also that they are committed to finding productive ways to fight social injustice, poverty and other societal issues that are important to all of us. We must continue to work together in creative and dynamic ways to make our communities stronger and better with equal opportunities for all.

Lurie is considered one of the more socially aware owners in the NFL and his players have been very appreciative of his support in the past. Lurie even joined his team on the field during this season in September after President Donald Trump publicly said, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now.'"

But this statement doesn’t really answer any questions. 

While it’s noteworthy that Lurie is proud of players who fight for positive change and at least he mentioned the reason players are protesting in the first place, the Eagles’ owner didn’t address any specifics about how the Eagles will address the new anthem policy and possible fines that could be levied by the NFL to the Eagles. Nor did Lurie address if or how the Eagles would discipline players now that the power to do so is in their hands. 

In fact, Lurie didn’t specifically mention the anthem or protests at all. 

It was first reported that the policy passed unanimously, but then it was revealed that 49ers owner Jed York abstained from the vote. A league spokesman told NBC Sports Philadelphia that York was the only owner to abstain and the others all voted for the new policy. That includes Lurie.  

Earlier in the day, Jets chairman Christopher Johnson said his team would support any players who wanted to protest during the anthem and would not fine them.

Lurie’s statement fell short of answering some important questions.