Chris Long and Malcolm Jenkins spoke publicly Tuesday for the first time since the NFL implemented its anthem policy. The Eagles players, among the NFL’s most vocal and socially aware, backed up their statements they posted on social media last week.
“I think it’s a still a bad idea and something that was unnecessary,” Jenkins said Tuesday, via Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia. “But now there’s a media storm the league has kind of brought on itself.”
Long said the move to force players who are on the field to stand during the national anthem was reactionary and has made things “messier.”
“It’s their right, but I think it was a dumb move and I think it was clumsy,” Long said. “I don’t think it was rooted in patriotism. I love this country; I love our vets. The guys protesting love our country and love our vets. I think it was driven by fear of a diminished bottom line, which I already wrote on Twitter. You can see that on Twitter. The underlying factor is they’re afraid of the President. I don’t really need to expound much on that. It’s their right, again, but it’s a clumsy rule.”
Jenkins stopped raising a fist during the anthem after the NFL struck a deal with a coalition of players for the league to pledge $89 million for projects dealing with racial inequality. Jenkins, who heads the Players Coalition, said the progress made from that was lost in the league’s new national anthem policy.
“It’s definitely discouraging because I definitely thought we were moving to a place where players obviously wanted a platform and we could create something that was maybe more effective and bigger,” Jenkins said. “I think there’s been a ton of effort and time put into creating that, but then there’s decision that kind of undermines that. I thought the league genuinely was building that, but then when you start trying to mandate things, it’s less likely to help.”