Eagles DE Chris Long Lends Support To Jenkins' Protest During National Anthem
Eagles DE Chris Long "put his arm around" S Malcolm Jenkins during the national anthem prior to the team's preseason game against the Bills in what is "believed to be the first time a white player has made such a public statement of support of the polarizing movement that started as a way to spread awareness about racial inequality and police brutality last summer," according to Evan Grossman of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. Jenkins and Seahawks DE Michael Bennett, who have "both been protesting the anthem, both said this week that white players joining in could help move the needle and make the anthem protests more than just an issue for black players" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/18). In Philadelphia, Jeff McLane notes Long has been "outspoken since the events" in his hometown of Charlottesville this past week. Long said that he had "told Jenkins of his plans to make a gesture before the game." Long: "I just told Malcolm, 'I’m here for you.' I think it’s a good time for people that look like me to be here for people that are fighting for equality." Jenkins, who on Thursday continued his practice of raising a fist in the air, said, "This is a moment in time where he feels the need to kind of take that step and lead, and I appreciate that." Long added, "I’ve heard a lot of people say, ‘You need white athletes to get involved in the anthem protest.’ I’ve said before that I’ll never kneel for an anthem because the flag means something different to everybody in this country, but I support my peers. ... My thing is Malcolm’s a leader and I’m here to show support as a white athlete" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 8/18).
A NEEDED PUSH: FS1's Shannon Sharpe said he was "sincerely touched" by Long's actions, as it showed a white player willing to "step outside of his comfort zone." Sharpe said, "Sometimes when the wagon is on top of the hill, all it needs is one push. Maybe Chris Long is that white athlete that got this started and others will join. ... Eventually there are going to be enough of those white players and enough white people are going to get on board that is going to change policy" ("Undisputed,” FS1, 8/18).
COME TOGETHER: CSNPHILLY.com's Andrew Kulp writes although Jenkins' demonstration has "not garnered the mainstream national attention of some of the other high profile athletes who have sat or knelt during the anthem, he has been among the most outspoken." He said, "The biggest thing is to continue to call attention to the things in this country I think everybody after the past week has been focusing on." Eagles CB Ron Brooks on Thursday also "knelt for the anthem." He said, "I'm not too concerned about whether it be a white person, black person, they could be Anglo-Saxon, whatever race, it doesn't matter. ... A lot more people need to (act) and not just be quiet and let things go to the wayside" (CSNPHILLY.com, 8/18).
COACHES, EXECS TALK PROTEST: 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan on Thursday said that he "hasn't had formal discussions with his team about potential protests during the national anthem." He added that he "wouldn't expect any players to think they needed to tell him in advance if they planned to kneel, sit or raise a fist." Shanahan: "I see stuff on TV also and things that are going on in this country and this world. I think anybody who sees that stuff and doesn't get a feeling like they'd like to do something about it to end that stuff, I think something is wrong with you. I understand why guys want to say something and speak up. There's lots of different ways to do it." 49ers GM John Lynch on Wednesday "called protests 'divisive,' even though he said he respects players' right to express their opinions" (USA TODAY, 8/18). Broncos Exec VP/Football Operations & GM John Elway said the team has "not had a conversation" with players over protests. Elway: "Everybody has the right to do what they wish to do and their beliefs are their beliefs. ... They have the right to display whatever they wish to display." He added, "We’ll respect that and whatever you want to do is fine with us. But the bottom line is that can’t get in the way of our main goal, and that is to compete for world championships" (DENVER POST, 8/18). Meanwhile, in Akron, Nate Ulrich reports Browns coach Hue Jackson "responded Thursday to criticism he received for his comments earlier this week about national anthem protests." Jackson on Monday said that he "hoped none of his players would protest by sitting or kneeling during the national anthem before upcoming games." Jackson issued a statement Thursday that read, "The intent of my comments was not to discourage individual expression from our players in light of a cause that moves them to personal expression" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 8/18).
EXTRAORDINARY TIME FOR SPORTS: In Chicago, David Haugh writes many people "want players to worry only about football the same way they prefer columnists and talk-show hosts stick to sports." However, this is the "wrong week to make that plea." This is "not your ordinary NFL season, kicking off three weeks from Thursday, but an extraordinary time for the league and all of sports as it pertains to their role in society" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/18).