The Philadelphia Eagles have gone through a whirlwind of changes since the year 2016 began. The release of former head coach, Chip Kelly, was the first of the major headline moves. Kelly lost the Eagles’ locker room and the team was divided. The Eagles chose Doug Pederson to replace Kelly and hoped he’d be able to turn the atmosphere of the locker room around as a player’s coach. The next major headline of moves was getting rid of the dead weight in DeMarco Murray, Byron Maxwell, and Kiko Alonso.
These moves were necessary to make in order to remove the negative energy and overpriced mediocre players from the team. The Eagles made a ton of more changes prior to week one of the 2016 season including trading their starting quarterback, Sam Bradford, and rolling with the No. 2 overall pick, Carson Wentz.
Many speculated that trading Bradford again divided the locker room. Some players were against the move, others for it. After the team’s 29-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns this past Sunday, along with Wentz’s stellar debut, that speculation immediately ceased.
According to Eagles safety, Malcolm Jenkins, the team is going to join in on the national anthem protest during their matchup versus the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football. These protests began when San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, kneeled during the national anthem citing social injustices as his reasoning. This sparked a worldwide debate and slowly other players among the NFL have joined in on his protest
“Last week, we talked about doing some stuff, but we wanted to make sure that we didn’t do anything to take away from the families that suffered from 9/11,” Jenkins said during a radio interview with 94.1 WIP. “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 isn’t just speaking for himself, he’s speaking for the entire Eagles team. That shows how unified this team is as a whole. After all the changes that were made at the start of this year to now, the Eagles players are able to come together and join a national protest, while standing up for their beliefs.
“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 forward the conversation about social injustice, and that’s a range of things from police brutality to wages and job opportunities, education. There’s just a lot of things systematically that have been set up in this country since its inception that put minorities, especially African-Americans, at a disadvantage when you talk 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 doing our part in bringing forth change. Obviously this has been a hot topic, and the more players that join in, the further this conversation goes.”
“I’m not sure,” Jenkins said when asked exactly how the players intended on expressing themselves. “I still want to talk to some of my teammates. There’s been conversations that we’ve had of, what do we want to do? Do we want to do something as a team or as individuals? And I think that’s still being discussed. But I doubt that we’ll have anybody kneeling.”
Jenkins said he’s spoken to Pederson about the team’s impending protest. The first-year head coach addressed the media this morning discussing how he feels about his team coming together and standing up for their beliefs.
“Listen, I respect players’ decisions. Everybody has their right to either protest or whatever they are going to do,” Pederson said. “Malcolm and I have talked about this. It’s going to happen regardless of what I decide or say, and I respect the players’ decisions on it. The biggest thing is I just don’t want it to become a distraction to the rest of the team. That’s the biggest thing from my standpoint.”
Pederson believes the league-wide protests haven’t affected any of the teams with unnecessary distractions. He fully supports a team-wide protest and made that clear today. The rookie head coach also thanked Jenkins for being a leader not only on the Eagles, but in the community as well.
“Listen, if they wanted to do something team-wide, I would definitely be for that,” Pederson said. “I think it just shows unity, and there’s no division that way. Malcolm is a class act all the way. He does a lot of things in the community here. He speaks out on a lot of things. He’s a great teammate and a great leader of this football team. I just appreciate him coming to me first and just letting me know.”
This protest shouldn’t be frowned upon. We as free human beings have the right to protest in something we believe in and even for NFL players that right stays the same. The biggest takeaway from this impending protest, is the unity the Eagles have created. They’ve come a long way from the Kelly era and have turned over a new leaf. It’s a breath of fresh air and should be looked at as just that.