Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins has been raising his fist during the national anthem since the beginning of the 2016 NFL regular season. It wasn’t a surprise, then, to see him do the same before the Eagles’ game against the Buffalo Bills on Thursday evening.
But something was different about Jenkins’ demonstration on Thursday night. Eagles defensive end Chris Long put his arm around his teammate as Jenkins held his fist up in the air.
Chris Long put his arm around Malcolm Jenkins in support of his national anthem protest. pic.twitter.com/Rc7mM4sOqk— SB Nation (@SBNation) August 18, 2017
Why did Long do it?
“It’s Malcolm’s thing,” said Long. “It’s all of our thing to get involved in reality, but as far as his version of the protest, this week was a tough week for somebody being where I’m from [Charlottesville, Virginia]. But it’s not about me, it’s not about the people of Charlottesville.”
“I was inspired by a lot of the allies that were there to stand up against hate in my hometown and I wasn’t able to be there to protest or to stand up against hate. People like Heather Heyer gave their life for that and I was inspired by that. I just told Malcolm, ‘I’m here for you.’ I think it’s a good time for people that look like me to be there for people that are fighting for equality.”
Long also spoke more on the events of Charlottesville, which he also addressed after practice this week.
“It’s been a hard week for everybody. I think it’s not just a hard week for someone being from Charlottesville. It’s a tough week for America. I’ve heard a lot of people say ‘Why do athletes get involved in the National Anthem protests?’ I’ve said before that I’ll never kneel for an anthem because the flag means something different for everybody in this country, but I support my peers. If you don’t see why you need allies for peopel that are fighting for equality right now, I don’t think you’ll ever see it. My thing is this, Malcolm is a leader and I’m here to show support as a white athlete.
Earlier this week, Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett called for white players to join national anthem protests. Long’s support of Jenkins is a simple action that speaks volumes.
"I'm honored to have shared a locker with you." - #Eagles DT Gabe Wright to Chris Long, following his news conference on his anthem gesture.— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) August 18, 2017
In related news, Eagles cornerback Ron Brooks knelt during the anthem on Thursday night.