Chris Long and Malcolm Jenkins

Just hours after Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett called for white players to join national anthem protests for social justice, Eagles defensive end Chris Long became the first white player to participate. During the anthem at last Thursday’s game between the Eagles and the Bills, Long placed his hand on the shoulder of safety Malcolm Jenkins, who has become one of the movement’s leaders.

During an Outside The Lines appearance on Monday, Jenkins told ESPN’s Bob Ley that Long’s decision to become an ally in these protests has “changed the dynamic of the whole conversation.”

Here are Jenkins’ full comments:

“He approached me about an hour before the game and said that he’d been thinking about it and he wanted to show some kind of symbol of support, and we talked over what that would look like. He settled on just a simple arm around my shoulder while I continue my demonstration. And all I asked really was, ‘What’s the message that you’re trying to get out?’ And the message was that more white men need to position themselves as allies when we’re talking about conversations dealing with social equality, social justice. And he really wanted to start to show that support, and I definitely appreciated that. And obviously it’s changed the dynamic of the whole conversation.”

One night later, Bennett’s teammate Justin Britt became the second white player to join the protests, as he also placed his hand on Bennett’s shoulder during the anthem. Over the weekend, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr joined the chorus.

Last week, Bennett said the conversation about race and social justice wouldn’t reach greater heights until a white player participated:

“It would take a white player to really get things changed because when somebody from the other side understands and they step up and they speak about it, it would change the whole conversation because you bring somebody who doesn’t really have to be a part of the conversation to making themself vulnerable. I think when that happens, things will take a really big jump.”

[ESPN]

About Jesse Kramer

Jesse is a writer and editor for The Comeback. He has also worked for SI.com and runs The Catch and Shoot, a college basketball website based in Chicago. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Follow Jesse on Twitter @Jesse_Kramer.