The National Football League was mired in a gigantic controversy throughout the 2017 NFL season due to a protest that began among their players during the national anthem that is played before each game in every NFL stadium across the United States of America.
Regardless of how you felt about the protest there is no question that they caused a tremendous deal of controversy both on and off the field for the league and there's no question that the protests also hurt the NFL's bottom line. The League's viewership suffered and they were also the targets of a ton of bad press from both sides of the political spectrum as the NFL became a proxy for a very public and heated political debate.
As of result of the financial hit the NFL took from the protest a number of NFL teams moved to crack down on the protests from the players and eventually the NFL itself instituted a rule that effectively banned all protests during the anthem. That of course only resulted in even more backlash for the NFL and they would eventually reverse that decision and let things return to the status quo. That of course meant that the protest would continue and we did not have to wait long to get some examples of how the players would protest the anthem this time around.
On Thursday night the Jacksonville Jaguars took the field for a preseason match up against the New Orleans Saints but not all of their players were with them when there did so. According to a report from ESPN's Michael Di Rocco there were four players missing on the field, those players were Telvin Smith, Jalen Ramsey, Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon. It's worth noting here that Di Rocco did state that he has not been able to officially confirmed that this was indeed a form of protest from the four men but it seems to be too large of a coincidence to simply ignore. This is made even worse by the fact that Di Rocco reports the four men did appear on the field once the anthem had finished playing in the stadium. Again this is purely speculation on my part but that is enough to convince me that this indeed was a form of protest from some of the Jaguars.
Those however were not the only protests seen on the field on Thursday night, and in fact they were not the most anticipated protest of the evening. Earlier during the week Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins had hinted at the fact that there would be some kind of statement from the players today regarding the protests, and although it was not the kind of statement I had expected. There was no official joint statement from the players but when the anthem began to play Jenkins repeated a gesture that he had done so many times during the previous season. With the anthem playing in the stadium Jenkins raised his fist into the air in protest, likely an indication that he intends to continue his personal protest throughout the 2018 season.
Either way this will likely continue to be a major headache for the NFL.
Photo Credit: Chris Szagola/CSM/Zuma