Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins was one of many NFL players who was disappointed in the NFL’s decision to ban national anthem protests starting with the 2018 season. Commissioner Roger Goodell announced on Wednesday that all 32 teams unanimously agreed to the ban as well as the league’s decision to fine teams whose players do not comply. Jenkins took to Twitter and expressed why he thinks that the move is a bad idea.
Jenkins started his post saying that the NFL has trampled on the players’ constitutionally-protected rights to express themselves and raise their voices against racial injustice in the United States. He said that when others try to stifle free speech, “everyone loses.” He vowed to continue the fight in spite of the league mandate.
“The national conversation around race in America that NFL players forced over the past 2 years will persist as we continue to use our voices, our time and our money to create a more fair and just criminal justice system, end police brutality, and foster better educational and economic opportunities for communities of color and those struggling in this country,” Jenkins tweeted.
Jenkins isn’t alone in his criticism of the new NFL policy. ESPN’s Jemele Hill wrote her commentary for The Undefeated, where she chided the league for exacerbating an already volatile issue. Seeing as the overwhelming majority of anthem protests had ceased and few players even planned to continue next season, the ban now seems unnecessary. Passing the rule now has only reignited the flames of controversy.
“Rather than let things play out, the NFL created a new controversy, more animosity, and negative headlines just to appease the wrong sensibilities,” Hill wrote. “Some will argue that the NFL was merely being proactive in protecting its product, but all it did was further expose how out of touch it is and prove the merits of Kaepernick’s and Reid’s collusion cases against them.”
Jenkins went on to say that his focus was not so much on the method of expression as it was about effecting “real change for real people.” When Colin Kaepernick first took a knee, he did so in protest of police brutality that occurs disproportionately against black men in America. Critics of the ban assert that Kaepernick’s original intent got lost in translation, likely due to Donald Trump’s verbal and social media assaults.
Fellow Eagles teammate Chris Long tweeted that the NFL action was motivated out of fear and protecting the bottom line. Long said that owners fear the president and that they are no more patriotic than anyone else. He believes that they have confused the issue for a purpose completely unrelated to the flag, the anthem, the military, and the country.