Malcolm Jenkins Unsure If He'll Continue Anthem Protest on Thursday

Just before 8 o'clock on Thursday night, Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins will stand on the visitors' sideline at Lambeau Field as The Star-Spangled Banner begins to play. 

He still doesn't know what he's going to do. 

"I woke up this morning like, 'Man, I think I gotta think about it,'" Jenkins said on Tuesday afternoon after practice, just a couple days before the preseason opener. "I don't know."

Last year, Jenkins participated in a near-season-long demonstration during the national anthem before games. Before the song played each week, the veteran raised his right fist into the air in an attempt to further a conversation about racism and social injustice in the United States. It was a move to show solidarity with then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began kneeling during the anthem. 

Looking back, Jenkins said the demonstration "definitely" worked. 

"It was a very effective demonstration in that regard, when it comes to starting conversation," Jenkins said. "It did exactly what it was supposed to do. But looking where we are compared to last year, I don't think we're any better. I think possibly worse. I think there's still a lot of work to be done. There's been a lot of work done by a lot of guys. It's one of those things that regardless of a demonstration or not, that work is going to continue."

Jenkins, 29, isn't sure if he'll continue to protest for a couple reasons. He definitely wants the conversation to continue but said he wants to make sure it's getting the results he wants. 

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The biggest fear Jenkins has is that the demonstration will shift the focus to him instead of the progress he hopes will be accomplished and the actual work that's being done to get there. 

"I don't want the story to be about me and the NFL and its new political stance," Jenkins said. "I want it to be about the actual issues. And so it's about finding out what's the most effective way to message that. But at the end of the day, there's no bigger platform than the one I stand on and I want to make sure that I use it appropriately." 

Toward the beginning of last season when Jenkins began his demonstration, he was joined by several teammates. A couple of them - Steven Means and Marcus Smith - didn't continue to join Jenkins in protest, and Ron Brooks was lost for the season in October with an injury. 

Aside from just raising his fist before games, Jenkins has become extremely involved trying to bridge the gap between police officers and the minority communities they serve. He's spoken with local lawmakers and local police, and he joined a group of NFL players that visited Washington in March to discuss criminal justice reform. 

"A demonstration is one part of the grand scheme of things," Jenkins said. "Even though I might have been alone on that after a while, demonstrating, there were guys who took part in a lot of the things that we were doing. Ron Brooks and Steven Means went along with me with the police ride-along. A lot of guys this offseason have expressed interest in joining some of the efforts with local legislation and some of the other programs we have going on. There are guys partaking in projects, just not necessarily the demonstration. 

"And the demonstration is probably the most controversial part of it. It's the part of it that has the microscope under it and I understand why some people wouldn't want to put themselves in that crosshair."

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