Anything Donald Trump touches turns to controversy.
So before the Eagles and Giants even took the field for what would turn into an epic 27-24 win for Philly on a ridiculious 61-yard field goal, National Anthem protest arguments had been brewing since Friday. And after the game, in the locker room, they were the subject of much discussion.
“I have been hearing the same rhetoric for over a year,” Malcolm Jenkins said Sunday afternoon, referencing the President’s tweets about how he thinks that players who kneel during the National Anthem should be fired. “It’s one of those things that sparked a lot of guys. We have a lot of pride for guys in our league. When you come after us, guys will respond. It’s one thing to have a fan say something on social media but it’s anothet to have high ranking officials come out and single guys out.”
Jenkins, as he has for two seasons now, raised his fist during the Star Spangled Banner — but unline recent weeks he was flanked by an entire roster, and by Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, locking arms in a show of “unity.”
Players across the league also particpated, with teams staying in the locker room for the anthem, or several players actually taking knees or sitting.
To Jenkins, the actual form of the protest has nothing to do with what he wants people to be talking about. It’s the motivation and statement behind it.
“It doesn’t make a difference at all,” Jenkins said. “We are saying the same things the players that kneel are. The reason I kneel or dont’ kneel is not because I think it’s disrespectful. It’s just misunderstood and I want my demonstration to be effective and well-received. Whatever that is is going to be to the individual, but everybody is saying the same thing. We want change and we want to be that vehicle to bring change and we want to use our platform.”
Jenkins emphasized the context of the protest as being the most important thing, challenging those who disagree to look at the problem at hand, not the demonstration itself.
“I feel like anybody who criticizes an anthem protest, I always love to hear their opinions about whats going on in our communities,” Jenkins said, “how they feel about our criminal justice system, how they feel about lives being lost at the hands of law enforcement for no reason, and if they have no legitimate opinions about that than I could care less about their opinion about our protest of those issues.
“Theres no need to get into arguments about whether the protest is right or not, that is very trivial. While we can do it, we want to bring attention to some of the real issues in our country.”