If you want to be cynical, the NFL pledged at least $89 million to social initiatives in hopes of getting NFL players to stop protesting during the national anthem.
If that was the aim, it worked on Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins. Jenkins said, after the NFL made its financial pledge to national and local community efforts, and social justice reform initiatives through 2023, that he would not raise his fist during the anthem anymore. Jenkins was part of a coalition of players working with the NFL.
Jenkins said he encouraged by the NFL’s efforts in regards to social injustice, Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Other players aren’t on board. As Yahoo’s Charles Robinson reported, the financial arrangement doesn’t come with an agreement that all players will stop protesting. Jenkins won’t be raising his fist anymore, and on Sunday his Eagles play the Seattle Seahawks and defensive end Michael Bennett, who has been sitting for the national anthem most of this season. It could be quite the juxtaposition.
There has been plenty of in-fighting among players over the coalition, most notably by San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid, who joined Colin Kaepernick in 2016 when the anthem protests started. Reid, Miami Dolphins safety Michael Thomas and Los Angeles Chargers offensive tackle Russell Okung pulled out of the coalition earlier this week. In an explosive interview with Slate, Reid said he believes Jenkins is the only protesting player who supports the financial deal with the league, and other protesting players weren’t involved in all of the negotiations with the league. Reid also said Jenkins told him “that he left the conversation [with a league official] with a strong feeling that once they made a monetary contribution, that they would expect us to stop protesting,” according to Slate.
The NFL would probably like the whole story to go away, and soon. But even with a large financial commitment to the coalition, it seems the story isn’t close to being over. It seems like the protests won’t entirely end, either.
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