The Philadelphia Eagles have joined in on growing protests nationwide in which NFL players refuse to stand during the national anthem before the start of football games during the 2016 season.
During a Monday Night Football game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field, multiple Eagles players stood with one fist raised in the air during the anthem. An American flag was held on the field by a local police and two fans in the stands held a sign reading, "Stand up."
Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said after practice Saturday that he believes there will "definitely" be Philadelphia players who will show their feelings about social injustice prior to kickoff, following San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and other players around the league's lead, ESPN reported. Jenkins was among the players who raised their firsts.
"Last week, we talked about doing some stuff, but we wanted to make sure that we didn't do anything to take away from the families that suffered from 9/11," Jenkins said. "We didn't want to mess with that day, so we left last week alone. But moving forward, I'm sure there will be guys that will probably join in."
Jenkins said the protest "has nothing to do with this country or the flag or the anthem itself," adding that it is a meant to "push forward the conversation about social injustice."
"That's a range of things from police brutality to wages and job opportunities, education," he said. "There's just a lot of things systematically that have been set up in this country since its inception that put minorities, especially African-Americans, at a disadvantage when you talk about quality of life and actually growing in this country."
When asked about the possibility of an upcoming protest, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said he respects players' decisions, ESPN reported.
"Everybody has their right to either protest or whatever they are going to do," Pederson said, adding that he and Jenkins had talked about the possibility of a gesture. "The biggest thing is I just don't want it to become a distraction to the rest of the team."
Pederson also called Jenkins a "class act," a "great teammate" and a "great leader" who does a lot for the community, according to ESPN.
On Sept. 11, the first Sunday of the regular 2016 season, several NFL players displayed solidarity with Kaepernick by locking their arms, raising their fists or kneeling while the national anthem was played, including players from the Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots, Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers.
A youth football team in Beaumont, Texas, has even vowed to continue protesting the anthem despite receiving death threats.
Kaepernick's protest first went unnoticed but garnered the attention of the media and the public during a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers. He has said that his protests will continue until this is "significant change" and he feels "like the flag represents what it's supposed to."