Malcolm Jenkins on Protest: ‘If Your Heart's in the Right Place, It's Easy to Do It'

CHICAGO — After weeks of thinking about some sort of demonstration, Malcolm Jenkins stood on the Eagles’ sideline before Monday night’s 29-14 win over the Bears as the national anthem began. 

As it did, Jenkins raised his right fist.

“It’s a lonely feeling,” said Jenkins, who was the focus of many camera lenses during the anthem. “But I wouldn’t change anything. It’s definitely, you feel like you’re out there on the edge. You understand the consequences that will come, but at the end of the day, if your heart's in the right place, it’s easy to do it.”

Jenkins wasn’t alone in continuing a growing protest over social injustice started by 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick weeks ago. On Jenkins’ left and right, Ron Brooks and Steven Means raised their fists, too (see story). So did Marcus Smith, who didn’t stand with the other three. 

“It's just something — I knew it was coming,” Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said. “I was just appreciative that Malcolm had come to me a week ago, and we spoke about it, and so it's over with and we're moving on."

Jenkins, 28, was on 94 WIP on Friday when he first revealed that he and some teammates were planning some sort of protest. As of Saturday, when he spoke at his locker, Jenkins wasn’t sure how the protest would manifest itself. 

Ultimately, they decided to raise their fists.  

“You immediately understand what the issue is when you see a black man raise his fist,” Jenkins said. “You kind of know what the topic is about. I wanted to make sure that was clear. It had nothing to do with necessarily disrespecting the flag or not representing the country. The issue is about the treatment of African Americans and minorities in this country, when you talk about social injustice.”

Jenkins said the group talked about the possibility of kneeling, like Kaepernick has been doing, but nobody — Jenkins included — wanted to kneel. 

There was also talk of a team-wide demonstration. If that happened, Pederson said he would participate as a sign of team unity. 

“There were some other suggestions about doing some things as a full team,” Jenkins said. “But sometimes when you look at it and you want to create an impact, holding hands or locking arms doesn’t address the actual issue. Although it looks great because you’re all together, the honest truth about it, some guys on the team actually don’t care about the issues, which is fine. We wanted to make sure that whatever we did, if we were going to step out and stand up for something, that it was impactful and actually stuck to the message.” 

While just four players chose to protest on Monday night, Jenkins said a lot of players considered joining. 

Jenkins said he plans on continuing the protest each week. 

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