Will Doug Pederson take a knee in solidarity with his players? Will he participate in any sort of pregame demonstrations to raise awareness for social justice?
Pederson isn’t sure exactly what he’s going to do this fall. But one thing he does know is that he’s going to listen to his players and support whatever they do.
“I want to learn, I want to understand,” Pederson said. “I came from a world that didn't understand that.”
Pederson spoke in a Zoom call Tuesday morning and said that his focus over the coming months is to listen as much as he can from his Black players about their experiences and support them any way he can.
“Me, personally, just the first thing I want to do is listen, listen to my players, listen to the guys that have feelings, have strong beliefs, and I want to understand everything that I can,” Pederson said. “A lot of it is personal, for me, just hearing from the players (and) understanding more and more about what these players go through on a daily basis and what the Black community, the African American community, go through on a daily basis. And we are seeing it more and more, not only with sports but obviously in our communities.
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“I love all our players, coaches, and that for me is what I've taken away — just the understanding and knowledge (of) what these guys go through on a daily basis.”
During the Eagles’ recent virtual OTAs, Pederson has given the floor to several of his players to encourage a discussion about race, and it led to some of the team’s best-known white players speaking out in support of their Black teammates.
Pederson said his responsibility is to continue that open dialogue, not just now but for the long term.
“One of the things as a head football coach that we are going to continue to do is have discussions in every area, not only with social injustice but the anthem, with anything that comes up,” Pederson sad. “And … going into my fifth year with this football team, we have been able to have (a) dialogue and conversation.”
Eagles safety Rodney McLeod said last week he plans to continue a pregame demonstration to raise awareness of racial injustice and said he expects at least some of his teammates to join him.
Pederson said he supports those demonstrations, although he stopped short of saying he’ll participate.
“Nothing has been determined,” he said. “I support players who demonstrate peacefully and stand for something. … We have to fix the whys. It's part of the whys and trying to understand our players, and we support our players. I support our players. But we are going to have these conversations I know once we get into camp.”
Pederson said he also hopes to take what he learns from the Eagles’ Black players and coaches and share it with his family. Pederson and his wife Jeannie have three sons.
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