National Anthem Protests: Will Patriots-Eagles Players Kneel Before Super Bowl?

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Getty Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins raises a fist during the national anthem earlier this season.

As expected, there were no protests by either the Eagles or Patriots players during the national anthem prior to the Super Bowl. Patriots players and coaches each had one arm on the person’s shoulder next to them. The Eagles players stood and reacted as they saw fit. Some research shows neither team has had a player protesting since Week 12. Here’s a look at the players during the national anthem before the Super Bowl.

Contrary to some reports, NBC plans to televise the national anthem prior to the Super Bowl. The network will also televise any player demonstrations, if they occur, during the anthem. Pink will be performing the national anthem prior to the big game. AdWeek noted NBC executive producer Fred Gaudelli reaffirmed the network’s decision to broadcast any protests that could occur.

“The Super Bowl is a live event … and when you’re covering a live event, you’re covering what’s happening,” Gaudelli explained to AdWeek. “So if there are players that choose to kneel, they will be shown live…we could cover [protests prior to Super Bowl] it the same way we would cover it on a Sunday night game or a Thursday night game.”

Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins had been one of the most vocal proponents of protests during the anthem, but has had a change of heart after a series of meetings with the NFL. Jenkins, who is co-founder of The Players’ Coalition, had been raising his fist during the anthem, but committed to move on from protesting after the NFL’s declaration to make a $100 million worth of charitable donations. Jenkins explained to why he decided to stop protesting as a “good faith” gesture.

The purpose was to draw awareness to the issues that plague people of color, and the disenfranchisement of our communities, police brutality, the gap in our education system, the way our criminal justice system devours black-bodies. That’s what I wanted to draw awareness to. I’ve been actively working to improve in those areas nationally, and in my own community.

Through those works, we were able to sit down and have dialogue with the league about how they can amplify those efforts, and move past the demonstrations. I feel those conversations have gone well. I feel like in good faith, the platform that they have offered to provide amplified that, but takes all of it to a new level. Not only does it draw awareness, but you can make actual change on both a national and local level.

President Donald Trump did not mention the NFL by name, but clearly referred to players not standing for the national anthem in his recent State of the Union Address.

“Preston’s reverence for those who have served our nation reminds us of why we salute our flag,” Trump noted during the address. “Why we put our hands on our hearts for the Pledge of Allegiance. And why we proudly stand for the national anthem.”

Trump has been outspoken in his belief that the NFL should mandate players stand during the anthem. During a September 2017 speech, Trump noted he wanted NFL owners to fire players who protested during the anthem. “Get that son of a b—-h off the field right now, he’s fired. He’s fired,” Trump exclaimed during the speech (via CNN).

Patriots owner Robert Kraft admitted his personal desire would be for players to stand during the anthem, but also believes players have the right to protest if they see fit. Kraft discussed his beliefs in an interview with BBC (via ESPN).

The greatest enemy in sport is division from within. I personally feel it’s very important to respect our flag and our anthem. But I also respect the right of people in this country to make statements or protests, peacefully, in a way that’s appropriate to them.

I think there were some comments made about what our young men were doing that were a little inflammatory and inappropriate, and I thought I had to speak out. I spoke to the team, and I told them that they were free to do what they thought was correct as long; I try to bring unity and bring things together, and part of that is respecting how other people think.