The first Sunday of the regular season coincided with the 15th anniversary of 9/11. And while there were still some demonstrations from NFL players during the national anthem, at least one team refrained on that day — but won’t in Week Two.
“Everybody wants to be a part of it and I feel like it’s no different on our team,” Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins told Glen Macnow of WIP in Philadelphia on Friday, via CSNPhilly.com. “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 possibly will be one of the players who participate in the demonstration.
“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 [Colin Kaepernick’s] 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 that coach Doug Pederson is aware of the plan, and that he is “OK” with it.
“He understands that we have the right to express our feelings and use our voices in whatever way we want to,” Jenkins said. “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.”
It’s only been 22 days since Kaepernick’s decision to sit during the anthem was first noticed, and the phenomenon of sitting or kneeling or raising a fist has spread consistently in the two sets of NFL games played since then. For the most part, management (league office, owners, coaches) have supported the players’ rights to use the anthem as a platform for making a statement, although Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has called the displays “very disappointing.”
Commissioner Roger Goodell’s comments on the subject tied the decision to stand to patriotism — an implication that anything other than standing at attention isn’t patriotic. NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith has taken issue with the notion that anthem demonstrations are not patriotic, as has Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall.