Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins did not raise a fist during the national anthem on Thursday night, but that doesn't mean he's going to stop using his platform to take a stand.
PHILADELPHIA — Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins did not raise a fist during the national anthem on Thursday night, which he typically does to generate awareness toward racial injustices in America.
Outside of defensive end Michael Bennett taking a seat for the final moments of the anthem, there were no other notable actions taken during the league’s season debut sans policy. Bennett paced in front of the bench for a majority of the pre-game ceremony.
While Jenkins did not say he would no longer raise a fist this season, he did speak at length following Philadelphia’s 18-12 win over Atlanta about refocusing the meaning behind the gesture.
“I mean, at this point, it’s important for us as a movement to change and adapt to the context of the situation. I think there’s a huge need for us to turn the attention towards the issues and, not only the issues, but what players are doing in their communities to affect change,” Jenkins said in the locker room early Friday morning.
“We’re trying to move past the rhetoric of what is right and what is wrong. The work and the demonstration has always been parallel and simultaneous, but at this point, now the focus will turn more toward the work as we continue to adapt to the situation.”
Jenkins said he has not been involved in talks regarding a new anthem policy. Recently, the Washington Post reported that owners may still be seeking a compromise based on some of the pillars of the initial ill-fated policy, which was frozen indefinitely over the summer. Jenkins said he still believed that the only policy should be no policy at all.
“You’re still putting the players in a position where they’re costing their team money, so while they may not be getting fined themselves, if they’re costing their employer money it’s still putting them in a tough situation. If you’re going to back us, back us,” he said.
Jenkins, who has at times seemed distant from Colin Kaepernick, the former 49ers quarterback responsible for the initial wave of recent social justice activism in the NFL, complimented Nike for featuring Kaepernick in its new ad campaign. A commercial premiered during Thursday Night Football.
“I think Nike did a good job with taking the context of what’s happening right now and taking someone who has been, to this point, demonized and vilified in the media and held him up on a pedestal. And quite frankly, I think, long after this is done, Kap will be looked at as someone who not only changed the direction of his sport but ... quite frankly, our country.”
While the league is hoping that the rest of the weekend goes this way, Jenkins’s comments shouldn’t get lost in the shuffle or taken as a white flag raised by players who express their beliefs during the anthem. As the face of the players’ coalition, any call, no matter how loose or unofficial, to hone the message might be heeded. Jenkins doesn’t speak for everyone, but as we get deeper into the first quarter of the season, it wouldn’t be surprising to see others following his lead.
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