CLOSEnfl preseasons most interesting non qb position battles keep eye on cowboys wrs - NFL players show they won't acquiesce to league, President Trump on protests

NFL insider Jarrett Bell at the most sensible rookie performances on Thursday and the continued saga of gamers protesting throughout the nationwide anthem.
USA TODAY Sports activities

A knee right here, a fist there. Obligatory tweet-bashing from President Trump.

Yes, the NFL is back for another round of football, social consciousness, patriotism and politics.

One thing that was clear with the first full slate of preseason games: The protest movement in the NFL still has much momentum.

“As a man,” Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith explained, “I’ve got to stand for something.”

And it wasn’t The Star-Spangled Banner that Smith was moved to stand for before the exhibition opener against the New Orleans Saints.

Smith and three other Jaguars – Leonard Fournette, Jalen Ramsey and T.J. Yeldon – opted to remain in the locker room during the national anthem rather than take to the sideline.

More: Dolphins WRs Kenny Stills, Albert Wilson kneel in protest during national anthem

More: Baker Mayfield’s debut should give Cleveland Browns hope for long-term future at QB spot

Fournette and Ramsey are arguably the Jaguars’ best two players, while Smith, a team captain, is one of the most respected men in the locker room. For what it’s worth, two years after former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick launched this movement, the Jaguars contingent is hardly lacking clout.

So, while Trump’s Friday morning tweet – he implored players to, “Be happy, be cool,” as he mangled facts and reiterated a desire for dissenters to be suspended – was more of the same, the statement that the four Jaguars and three Seattle Seahawks players made by staying in the locker room represented a new twist in this evolution of NFL protesting.

In Seattle, Duane Brown, Branden Jackson and Quinton Jefferson, also were in locker room during the anthem – which is pretty much advancing the ball after players sat during the anthem last year.

Now chew on this: The locker room option was supplied by NFL owners with the national anthem policy they adopted in May, since suspended amid talks with the NFL Players Association. On one level, it seemed reasonable to suggest that players wouldn’t be forced to stand for the anthem.

Yet the option fuels more controversy and the type of optics you’d imagine would drive some people crazy: One team could have all of their players standing toe on line, hand on heart, for the anthem while the opponent has a handful of players in the locker room, waiting to rejoin the team just before kickoff.

Smith maintained to reporters that he isn’t sure whether he will continue to remain in the locker room as the season progresses. At the moment, the gesture would not draw discipline as the NFL and NFLPA have agreed to hold off on that possibility while they discuss a joint policy.

Still, it’s not unreasonable to think that the locker room gestures by the Jaguars and Seahawks players will amount to a trial balloon, with more players around the league potentially following suit in the coming weeks. The most significant impact of the protest movement was always going to come in the regular season, which begins in less than four weeks when the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles host the Atlanta Falcons.

Now, as the season approaches, so many NFL players – at least, so many African-American players – are prodded to ponder what their personal policy on the anthem will be.

The Eagles surely proved during their title run last season that a team can still take care of business on the field while raising consciousness off it.

Before the Thursday night opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, safety Malcolm Jenkins was joined by some teammates in wearing T-shirts with social messages that were so much bigger than the game.

The front the shirt read: “More than 60% of prison populations are people of color.”

On the back of the shirt: “Nearly 5,000 kids are in adult prisons and jails. #SchoolsNotPrison.”

Jenkins, who as soon as once more raised a fist throughout the anthem, has just about turn out to be the face of the motion, given his function as chief of the Gamers Coalition and with Kaepernick’s lowered visibility.

When Trump pronounces, as he did in Friday’s tweet, that the majority gamers are “not able to outline” their causes for protesting, he most effective makes himself glance worse as a result of he’s brushing apart the thoughtfulness that Jenkins and such a lot of different gamers have demonstrated.

On the other hand, we’ve come to be expecting the skewed retaliation from Trump. And we predict the protests – with a recent preseason preview — will move on.

Trump’s makes an attempt to bully or intimidate the NFL now seem to be generating diminishing returns. He has tweeted dozens of occasions in regards to the NFL and protests, and the load of his messages apparently are getting weaker with every tweet, whilst the anthem coverage is on ice.

And gamers are nonetheless protesting, with the motion re-ignited via Trump final September.

“It’s a loose nation and I’m simply preserving my fist up for solidarity,” Miami Dolphins defensive finish Robert Quinn informed The South Florida Solar-Sentinel following his preseason debut towards the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Quinn, received from the Los Angeles Rams in an offseason industry, demonstrated as he had prior to now. He indicated that he felt empowered in his new surroundings, which contains Dolphins trainer Adam Gase stating that he received’t recommend a technique or some other what gamers must do throughout the anthem.

Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills took a knee once more. He’s performed that for almost two years now. On Thursday evening, Stills was once strangely happy new teammate, receiver Albert Wilson, joined him in taking a knee. In a while, Stills and Wilson embraced.

“Being part of this protest hasn’t been simple,” Stills informed The Solar-Sentinel. “I assumed I’d be doing it alone and lately I had an angel available in the market.”

Chalk it up a few of the preseason questions that begged solutions.

Practice Jarrett Bell on Twitter @JarrettBell.

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