Before kickoff on this week’s edition of Monday Night Football, former standout Ohio State defensive back Malcolm Jenkins joined three of his Philadelphia Eagles teammates in raising their fists while the national anthem was played.
Jenkins, cornerback Ron Brooks, and defensive ends Steven Means and Marcus Smith all made the gesture, joining a rising movement of quiet protest that has engulfed the NFL’s discourse this season.
While the reasons for the protest begun by Colin Kaepernick have gotten muddied in conversations about the sanctity of the American flag, the American military, and various other tangentially related topics, Kaepernick made his own reasons for kneeling during the anthem — police brutality against black citizens, and other racial inequalities that persist in America — quite clear from the beginning. Jenkins is following suit.
Per SB Nation’s Jeanna Thomas, Jenkins told a radio show this week that “for me, it has nothing to do with this country or the flag or the anthem in itself...it's just to continue to push forward the conversation about social injustice, and that's a range of things from police brutality to wages and job opportunities, education.” Thomas reported that Eagles head coach Doug Pederson was aware of the players’ plan to raise their fists, and respected their decision to do so.
The gesture from Jenkins and his teammates seems especially pointed given today’s headline-making revelations regarding the death of Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man recently killed by a Tulsa police officer after his car broke down on the side of the road.
Jenkins played football for Ohio State from 2005-2008. He won the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the country’s most outstanding defensive back, following his senior season. He was drafted by the New Orleans Saints and later signed with the Eagles.