Like it or not, there has been a movement spreading around the NFL with an intent to highlight the social injustice that is felt by so many yet recognized by so few. It started with San Francisco 49ers backup QB Colin Kaepernick, who sat during the national anthem in order to raise awareness of the oppression endured by minorities. The act became a national storyline ever since and has now begun to attract the attention of Eagles players.
Malcolm Jenkins told WIP recently that he and some of his teammates intend on protesting during the National Anthem when the Eagles face Chicago on Monday Night.
“For me, it has nothing to do with this country, or the flag or the anthem itself — really, it’s just to continue to push forward the conversation about social injustice . . . that’s a range of things from police brutality to wages and job opportunities, 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 talk about quality of life, and actually growing in this country,”
Head Coach Doug Pederson met with the media today and spoke on the proposed gesture.
“If they wanted to do something team-wide, I would definitely be for that. I think it just shows unity, and there’s no division that way. I think it sends a great message that, from our standpoint and the National Football League, and the platform, and as individuals, we love this country and what it represents, and the flag and the national anthem and everything. Listen, we’re not perfect. Obviously. And for us to stand united that way would be, I would be okay with that.”
The controversy comes with what many believe the anthem represents. With a heavy link to the military and the men and women who died in the generations before ours in order to establish this right in the first place, many view it as disrespectful. Others are concerned with “the disruption” such an act would cause and the effect it would have on the locker room.
While those arguments are valid, the anthem doesn’t have a lone meaning, nor does it serve a lone purpose. Players are exercising their right to respect the anthem in their own right, but at the same time acknowledge the injustice going on in America and raise awareness..something this act has done brilliantly.
There are set days where the NFL and the nation honor the military. While the anthem has a link to the services, it hasn’t always been a natural one..as Stephen A Smith alluded to on a recent episode of First Take.
— Bossip (@Bossip) September 14, 2016
If people protest peacefully through other avenues for the same cause, as many are quick suggest, it often ends in Police intervention or brief local media coverage..while not achieving all that much. Like it or not, the actions associated with the anthem have made this storyline a prominent one in recent weeks across the entire world, something that would have been incredibly difficult to do through other avenues.
There isn’t yet word on how the Eagles will address the situation, potentially a unified linking of arms as suggested in the press conference or maybe a kneel by those who wish to do so..but by going to Doug Pederson first, Malcolm Jenkins has ensured that this does not become an issue that separates players or upsets harmony in the locker room.
Football issues are what causes a disparity in locker rooms, this simply isn’t one. Colin Kaepernick, the man who has received more media attention than anyone in the NFL in recent weeks is in a locker room where he isn’t the starting QB and the team aren’t attracting much coverage elsewhere. Yet despite all of the attention, the headlines, the pressure and a new system to learn..the Niners still blew out the Rams in week one.
Malcolm Jenkins is already extremely active in the Philadelphia community and has his own foundation dedicated to helping improve the lives of many. Last year, Jenkins partnered his foundation with PepsiCo and “Feed The Children”, an event that benefitted 800 families in the area with food, resources and essentials.
The irony in these protests is that those who are angry are often upset about the protest itself as opposed to recognizing the severity of the issues being highlighted through the actions. With the Philadelphia fans having a reputation for being passionate and never being afraid to let their voices be heard, it takes tremendous courage to stand in the face of adversity and unite a team to all push toward a common goal that could well face backlash.
By going to his Head Coach first to ensure that everybody is on the same page and that the forthcoming actions won’t divide the locker room, Malcolm Jenkins and those who are in favor of highlighting such a serious issue deserve nothing but respect. You may not agree with how they choose to protest, but they have every right to do so.
Everybody has a different connection to the National Anthem, but there is no right, or wrong way to respond to it..only an archetype. Players are free to do as they wish and even if there is a severe disagreement by the fans, the team looks to remain united..which in a circumstance such as this, is critical.
The great thing about America is that you have the right, to be wrong. You have the right to agree and disagree. The right to fight for a better future and help unite a nation in a time of need. It’s 2016. Social media and the internet are changing the world as we know it..oppression and injustice is being shown to those who previously had no idea of the severity that ensues and as a result, more can be done to raise awareness.
You don’t have to be gay to support gay rights. You don’t have to be of a certain minority or a subject of racial injustice to see the oppression that goes on in the world and want to create a better future. In a world where everybody has a voice and a platform to use it, an action as controversial as this, created in unity as a product of mutual respect and a drive to create a better tomorrow should be respected as such.
Mandatory Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports