PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Latest on the Atlanta Falcons playing the Philadelphia Eagles in the opening game of the NFL season.
Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and defensive end Michael Bennett were on the sideline when the national anthem was played before the NFL season opener between Philadelphia and Atlanta.
Neither really demonstrated during the song Thursday night. Jenkins and Bennett regularly have either knelt or stayed off the field during “The Star-Spangled Banner” to protest social injustice and racial inequality. They have been among the most vocal protesters since then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began similar demonstrations in 2016 by kneeling during the anthem.
Jenkins stood with teammates while Bennett wandered behind them near the Eagles bench and adjusted his equipment.
No Falcons players were absent from the sideline and none has protested in the recent past.
The anthem has been a particularly thorny issue for the NFL, especially with President Donald Trump urging owners to bench or fire players who demonstrate. Players say their message has been misconstrued into something against the American flag or the military.
The league and players union still haven’t resolved whether players will be punished this season if they choose to kneel or demonstrate during the anthem. Owners approved a policy requiring players to stand if they are on the sideline during “The Star-Spangled Banner,” allowing them to stay off the field if they wish.
But the league and union put that on hold after the Miami Dolphins faced backlash for classifying the protests as conduct potentially detrimental to the team — putting players at risk of fines or suspensions.
During the game broadcast, Nike is expected to run a commercial featuring Kaepernick after making him the face of its 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign.