If you think Colin Kapernick’s unemployment means there will be less activism in the NFL next season, think again.
In the Eagles locker room, days after controversial events in Charlottesville put a spotlight on racial strife in the United States yet again, race relations has become a topic of conversation.
“The important thing is that these issues exist in America,” Eagles defensive end Chris Long, who hails from the area in Virginia, said Monday. “But secondary to that, it’s really tough as a longtime resident of Charlottesville.”
Long took to Twitter to criticize President Donald Trump for not speaking out and admonishing white supremacy groups and Nazi sympathizers earlier this week and instantly brought NFL activism back into the Philadephia spotlight. But in Long’s view, it’s his job as a public figure to speak out.
“Charlottesville is a progressive, forward thinking place, logical place and I think we’ve taken the steps to accomodate the sensitivies of people,” Long said. “I can’t possibly understand what it’s like to be a minority and walk by a Confederate monument in a public place. Our city council voted to change the names of those parks and the statues are on the way out and what you are seeing is a lot of insecure people making noise about it.”
Though not at the protests near the University of Virginia last weekend, other players across the league are making noise too. In the first week of preseason games Marshawn Lynch refused to stand for the National Anthem for the Raiders and Michael Bennett sat with a towel over his head for the Seahawks.
“To me, the National Anthem at this point is, alright it’s just a thing we do, I don’t feel any attachment to it,” Eagles wide receiver Torrey Smith said when asked to comment on Lynch and Bennett. “If a guy feels like he wants to sit down he can sit down that’s for them. There are obviously problems going on and if people feel that way I respect it. I feel that way. There are issues going on in our country today.”
However Smith, who is one of the more socially conscious Eagles players, said he wanted to divert to guys who walk the walk for social change like Malcolm Jenkins.
“I think it’s definitely a conversation and the guys who are trying to create change, like Jenkins, are going to continue doing what they are doing,” Smith said. “Could I join a protest? Yes, but I am going to continue doing what I am doing. I think protests are important to raise awareness. Jenkins is one of the guys spearheading that for us as players. It says a lot about him. He’s not just saying it he’s doing the work, Kaepernick is another guy like that. The only way to really make change is through politics and legislation and he gets that.”