Eagles safety Rodney McLeod is leaning toward resuming his personal demonstrations against racial injustice during the national anthem for the 2020 NFL season.
Speaking with ESPN’s Tim McManus, the veteran said he has not yet decided on the form of demonstration but he expects his Eagles teammates to join in.
“I think I will (protest) in some capacity,” McLeod told ESPN. “... I think it’s important for us to continue this and not let this pass us by. So let’s take the right steps and that means committing ourselves throughout the 2020 season and further until we get change.”
McLeod’s former running mate on the back end of Jim Schwartz’s defense, Malcolm Jenkins, is one of the faces of the social-justice movement in the NFL, and McLeod would join his friend and mentor by raising his fist in the air during the anthem in the 2017 season. Chris Long, meanwhile, would place his arm around Jenkins in a show of solidarity.
For the most part, those types of protests halted by the 2018 season after the NFL and the Players Coalition, spearheaded by Jenkins and former receiver Anquan Boldin, agreed that the league would fund programs (using nearly $100 million) that the players were passionate about and battled social inequities.
The recent unrest in the country fueled by the police-brutality killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis put many of these issues back in the society’s public consciousness again and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell admitted the league was wrong for not listening to its players during the initial protests last week.
Goodell’s 180 came a day after a number of NFL stars -- including the player many consider the face of the league moving forward, Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes -- posted a video demanding the NFL admit fault and condemn systemic racism moving forward.
The NFL also got its pocketbook out again this week, pledging to spend another $250 million over the next 10 years to fight systemic racism, push criminal justice reform, police reforms, and economic and educational advancement.
McLeod was re-signed to a two-year deal by the Eagles in the offseason as Jenkins departed for New Orleans after a contract impasse. GM Howie Roseman mentioned stability and leadership when asked about the move to keep McLeod earlier this year.
“Rodney was really important for us to sign to have somebody who can really run the show back there and another year removed from the ACL surgery,” Roseman said. “I think sometimes when you look at Rodney, he's always doing his job, he's always in the right place and we've been very fortunate to have him and we're excited about him and taking another step forward also with his leadership ability.”
McLeod also discussed his new leadership role without Jenkins.
“It’s important for me to be myself, and that’s a guy who leads by his actions and leads by example,” said McLeod. “I think if you ask a lot of guys on the team that’s what they’ll tell you most. Actions speak louder than words.
“I think there will be times for me to speak up when needed, when my teammates need me most (and) I’ll be willing to do that. I don’t think much will change for me. I’ll just continue to by myself.”
John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John every Monday and Friday on SIRIUSXM’s Tony Bruno Show with Harry Mayes, and every Tuesday and Thursday with Eytan Shander on SBNation Radio. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen