Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins has been raising a fist in the air during the national anthem since last season as a symbol of protest. Thursday night against the Buffalo Bills, Jenkins was joined in a show of unity as defensive end Chris Long stood adjacent with his arm draped on Jenkins’ shoulders.
The events of this past weekend in Charlottesville, Va. led Long – a University of Virginia alum – to feel an obligation to join Jenkins in a show of support.
“It’s been a hard week for everybody,” Long said postgame, via Andrew Kulp of CSNPhilly.com. “It’s not just a hard week for someone being from Charlottesville. It’s a tough week for America.
“I’ve heard a lot of people say, ‘Why do athletes get involved in the national anthem protests?’ I’ve said before that I’ll never kneel for an anthem because the flag means something different for everybody in this country, but I support my peers. If you don’t see why you need allies for people that are fighting for equality right now, I don’t think you’ll ever see it.
“Malcolm is a leader and I’m here to show support as a white athlete.”
Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett wished a white athlete would show support toward the cause he, Jenkins, Colin Kaepernick and others have been protesting since last season. While the manner of protests have varied, Long’s support of Jenkins could go a long way toward shifting the protest from racial lines into a broader societal discussion.
“I was inspired by a lot of the allies that were there to stand up against hate in my hometown and I wasn’t able to be there to protest or to stand up against hate,” Long said. “People like Heather Heyer gave their life for that and I was inspired by that.
“I just told Malcolm, ‘I’m here for you.’ I think it’s a good time for people that look like me to be there for people that are fighting for equality.”