As anticipated, Malcolm Jenkins, Steven Means, Marcus Smith and Ron Brooks raised their fists in protest during the national anthem prior to the Eagles and Bears Week 2 battle Monday night.
The players mounted the subtle protest like many other NFL players partook in during the first two weeks of the season to raise awareness for racial injustice in the country. Pro Bowl safety and defensive leader Jenkins organized the demonstration. None of the Chicago Bears protested during the anthem.
Earlier this week, Jenkins appeared on WIP SportsRadio and said: “It’s important, but you obviously walk a fine line. Your goal is not to divide people but the goal is also not to beat around the bush. If it comes down to making somebody feel uncomfortable by speaking the truth, then I’d always make you uncomfortable with the truth than make you feel comfortable with a lie. It’s always a fine line to walk when you’re talking about a team atmosphere and making sure that your cognizant of the guys next to you, but at the same time, you know, this is bigger than football.”
Jenkins decided against doing anything during Week 1, as it was the 15th anniversary of September 11 and he did not want to cause any extra controversy. He also said he decided against taking a knee or sitting like some other players have. Of course, the first NFL protester was 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick who began taking a knee during the Star Spangled Banner during the preseason.
In a press conference over the weekend Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said he understands and respects whatever his players plan to do. He also doesn't see it as any kind of a distraction.
"It's something that players have the right to do," Pederson said. "But at the same time, I think once we get past the initial wave here, I think then it becomes, okay, everybody is sort of expecting it, and it's second nature after that."