Eagles S Malcolm Jenkins "raised a fist over his head during the national anthem prior to Thursday's preseason opener" against the Packers and "plans on continuing his demonstration" through the '17 season, according to Tim McManus of ESPN.com. Jenkins in a statement said, "Last season, I raised my fist as a sign of solidarity to support people, especially people of color, who were and are still unjustly losing their lives at the hands of officers with little to no consequence. ... As the blowback against those who stand up for what is right thickens, I feel it is necessary to push forward with a relentless determination. I want to send a message that we will not easily be moved or deterred from fighting for justice." McManus noted Jenkins "raised a fist above his head for all but one game" last season -- the season opener on Sept. 11 "out of respect for those who served and died on that day" in '01. Jenkins said that he plans to "demonstrate in the same fashion this season." It "unclear if any of Jenkins' teammates will join him." Jenkins' move last season was in support of Colin Kaepernick, who has indicated that he will "stand during the national anthem this upcoming season" if he is on a roster (ESPN.com, 8/10). In Newark, Matt Lombardo notes Jenkins has been "one of the more active members of the Eagles in terms of fostering better relations between minority communities and law enforcement over the past two years." Jenkins was "among a group of NFL players who met with members of congress on Capitol Hill last year to discuss potential criminal justice legislation reform with lawmakers" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 8/11).
GIVE THE MAN A CHANCE: Kaepernick remains unsigned, and in Austin, Cedric Golden writes Kaepernick is without a job because league owners -- a "collection of billionaires who don't take too kindly to uppity employees -- have apparently come to the conclusion that there is no place for the quarterback in the NFL." It is the latest sign politics and football "don't mix." Golden: "Sad as it sounds, had he beaten up a woman and thrown her on a bed of assault weapons, got popped for using steroids or killed a pedestrian while driving drunk, he would be in an NFL training camp today" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 8/11). In DC, John Feinstein writes Kaepernick is "actually an opportunity for the NFL." It only takes "one team to say publicly: We may disagree with his tactics, but he's committed no crime and we will judge him on talent alone." The NFL "loves to prove its collective patriotism with salutes to the military." Feinstein: "What's more patriotic than freedom of speech?" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/11).
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick wonders if there is a "difference between being 'blackballed' and being shunned for cause." If Kaepernick has the "right to exploit national anthems played before NFL games to display his disgust with America, why don't NFL teams that also rely on customers appalled by Kaepernick's protest, have the right to counter-protest by not signing him?" Mushnick: "How many of us can use our employer’s workplace to unilaterally conduct any kind of attention-generating political or social protest?" (N.Y. POST, 8/11). In DC, Thom Loverro writes a rally later this month will "attempt to strong arm NFL owners ... into signing Kaepernick." It is "doubtful that political pressure is going to force the hands of the men who own these football teams." Loverro: "I'm not sure that all this pressure -- the petitions, the rallies -- is something that Kaepernick, who has said he would now stand for the national anthem if he returns to football, welcomes" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 8/11).
MLB players are "aware of how in other sports, particularly the NBA, athletes' shoes have a big impact on fans and help create a connection," and thus were "itching to express themselves in a similar fashion because of the sport's strict uniform regulations," leading to the Aug. 25-27 Players Weekend, according to Tom Goldman of NPR.org. Players and owners "talked about it" during last year's CBA talks, and the "plans for Players Weekend started coming together a few months ago." MLB "hopes Players Weekend is a bridge to a younger audience." The game has been "losing that demographic in a sped-up world" (NPR.org, 8/10). However, the GUARDIAN's Les Carpenter writes the Players Weekend jerseys "look like soccer tops with each player’s nickname on the back." In a "reach to come off as young, baseball has gone the route of Brazilian football or every color-coordinated Sunday softball team with a portable beer cooler." However, MLB's "biggest problem is that its games take too long." MLB's issues are "structural and therefore not easy to confront." A cosmetic fix by "having the players wear shirts that look like soccer jerseys with nicknames like ‘Mr Smile’ or ‘Dave Human’ won’t move that 93% of people under 18 who aren’t watching baseball" (GUARDIAN, 8/11).
DON'T MESS WITH TRADITION: A N.Y. POST editorial states that no "other uniform in all of sports is as timeless and elegant" as the Yankees' home pinstripes, which "represent more than a century of class." It is a "lunacy to abandon it" for Players Weekend just for the "sake of a marketing stunt." Especially when the gimmick also "breaks the team’s as-venerable tradition of uniforms showing only players’ numbers, not their names." Yankee pinstripes "connect Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle to Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera to Aaron Judge and Brett Gardner." The editorial: "The uniform is a part of the sacredness of the game. And its beauty: Don’t let mindless obsession with fast profits tarnish it" (N.Y. POST, 8/11).
BLAND BIRDS: CSNMIDATLANTIC.com's Tyler Byrum wrote Players Weekend may be a "great opportunity for a player to build up their brand," but that is not the case for a "majority of the Orioles." Of the 23 players' jerseys that were released by MLB, seven on the Orioles "chose to still use their last name and three used their first name." However, fans will be able to buy a jersey for 1B Chris Davis that "says Crush on the back" (CSNMIDATLANTIC.com, 8/10).
NBA team owners are "expected to approve player-resting rules in September designed to cut back on teams benching healthy players for regular-season games," according to a source cited by Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY. The rules will be "in place by the start" of the '17-18 season, and there will be "consequences for teams that do not adhere to them." It is a "move that should please fans and the league’s business partners." It would not be a surprise if "there is a rule against resting healthy players for marquee national TV games" (USA TODAY, 8/11). In San Jose, Daniel Mano noted the practice of "sitting stars" has been around since Spurs coach Gregg Popovich "sent four stars home ... for more rest rather than play a game on TNT" in '12. Then-commissioner David Stern "fined San Antonio $250,000 for what he called 'a disservice to the league and our fans.'" The issue "cropped up again, and seemed to gain steam, this past March," when the Warriors and Cavaliers during consecutive nationally televised games each "decided to rest some stars" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 8/11). However, NBC Sports Bay Area’s Ray Ratto said when Popovich or Warriors coach Steve Kerr "is confronted by a situation like that, they're going to sit the guys they want to sit and they're going to say, ‘Go ahead and fine us.’” Ratto: “The only way this works is if you suspend the players -- who didn't do anything wrong -- because that's the only way you hurt a team that does this." NBC Sports Bay Area’s Monte Poole: "For national TV games, which are the showcase games, you make sure that you don't have a team coming in at four in the morning. You do that, you're halfway there” (“The Happy Hour,” NBC Sports Bay Area, 8/10).