Several NFL players continued their protests against social inequality during the national anthem before preseason openers on Thursday night.
Safety Malcolm Jenkins and cornerback De’Vante Bausby of the Philadelphia Eagles each raised a fist on the Philadelphia Eagles’ sideline, and defensive end Chris Long put his arm around Jenkins in a sign of support, as he did last season.
“I just think it’s important to keep this conversation going, that we don’t let it get stagnant,” Jenkins said after the game. “You know, as we understand it, everybody’s kind of waiting to see what the league is going to do. … It’s just my personal decision to keep these things at the forefront.”
Miami Dolphins wide receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson took a knee during the anthem and Dolphins defensive end Robert Quinn raised a fist, as did San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Marquise Goodwin before a game against the Dallas Cowboys.
Telvin Smith, Leonard Fournette, Jalen Ramsey and T.J. Yeldon of the Jacksonville Jaguars stayed off the field during the playing of the national anthem.
Duane Brown, Branden Jackson and Quinton Jefferson of the Seattle Seahawks also remained in the locker room before their game.
“This is not going to become a distraction for this team,” Smith said of the Jaguars. “I’ve got beliefs. I did what I did. I don’t know if it’s going to be every week; can’t answer if it’s going to be every week. But, as a man, I’ve got to stand for something.”
The NFL, with its national anthem policy on hold amid discussions with the NFL Players Association, released the following statement:
“The NFL has been engaged in constructive discussions with the NFL Players Association regarding the anthem and issues of equality and social justice that are of concern to many Americans. While those discussions continue, the NFL has agreed to delay implementing or enforcing any club work rules that could result in players being disciplined for their conduct during the performance of the anthem.
“Meanwhile, there has been no change in the NFL’s policy regarding the national anthem. The anthem will continue to be played before every game, and all player and non-player personnel on the field at that time are expected to stand during the presentation of the flag and performance of the anthem. Personnel who do not wish to do so can choose to remain in the locker room.”
President Donald Trump, who criticized NFL players throughout last season because of the protests, not surprisingly took notice.
Trump took to Twitter on Friday morning and wrote: “The NFL players are at it again – taking a knee when they should be standing proudly for the National Anthem. Numerous players, from different teams, wanted to show their “outrage” at something that most of them are unable to define. They make a fortune doing what they love………..
“Be happy, be cool! A football game, that fans are paying soooo much money to watch and enjoy, is no place to protest. Most of that money goes to the players anyway. Find another way to protest. Stand proudly for your National Anthem or be Suspended Without Pay!”