One of the highest-paid safeties in the entire NFL will continue to raise his fist in protest while the national anthem plays this season.
Per ESPN, Philadelphia Eagles defender Malcolm Jenkins plans on continuing his demonstration through the 2017 season.
Last season, I raised my fist as a sign of solidarity to support people, especially people of color, who were and are still unjustly losing their lives at the hands of officers with little to no consequence. After spending time with police officers on ride-alongs, meeting with politicians on the state and federal level and grass roots organizations fighting for human rights, it's clear that our criminal justice system is still crippling communities of color through mass incarceration," Jenkins said in a statement.
The trend of protesting political and social causes during national anthems first started when then San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee while the song played. Other players like Jenkins and teammates defensive endsand Marcus Smith raised their fists during the anthem.
Jenkins raised a fist above his head for all but one game in 2016 -- the exception being the regular-season opener against the
"With the new call for a war on crime and drugs, the disproportionate oppression of poor communities and communities of color will continue unless legislative efforts and community engagement are made a priority. I've seen signs of life with regards to bipartisan support for criminal justice reform, but the support does not reflect the necessary urgency for real reform. This must be made a priority," continues Jenkins.
"As the blowback against those who stand up for what is right thickens, I feel it is necessary to push forward with a relentless determination. I want to send a message that we will not easily be moved or deterred from fighting for justice. There are many players across the league who have joined me in working toward new legislation and reestablishing trust and opportunities in our communities, and you can expect to see much more of that. I want to thank the fans across the country who have supported me in this effort to fight for equality and justice. I want to thank those that have dedicated their lives to this fight, as I know that it is not easy. And I want to challenge those who stay silent to be courageous and use your platforms to become part of the solution. God Bless."
As for the still unsigned Kaepernick, ESPN noted that Jenkins is one of several players across the league who have spoken out on the matter. He recently called some teams "cowards" for their reluctance to sign Kaepernick over concerns about public blowback. This followed a report from ESPN's Dianna Russini stating that support in the' front office to sign Kaepernick was met with resistance by owner Steve Bisciotti, who reportedly discussed the possibility of adding him with current and former players, as well as with fans and sponsors.