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September 07, 2017

Lurie: Players can protest national anthem, but they must be 'proactive' about it

Eagles owner denied that the NFL has blacklisted QB Kaepernick

Eagles Chairman Jeffrey Lurie said Thursday that NFL players are free to demonstrate against something they see as social injustice.

They just need to be respectful about it, he said.

"I don't think anybody who is protesting the national anthem is very respectful," Lurie said in an impromptu press conference at the NovaCare Complex. "If that's all their platform is, to protest national anthem, then what's the proactive nature of it?"

Lurie was asked Thursday about players who kneel or raise their fists during the national anthem before NFL games as a sign of protest, an effort among a group of players – including Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins – that gained steam last year and again in preseason play this summer.

Using Jenkins as an example, Lurie did say some players who protest the national anthem are misunderstood.

"It's all about respect," he said. "We have to get to the bottom of what they are trying to accomplish. Are they being proactive in the community and what are they doing? I think you have to take a more holistic view of it."

But Lurie was careful not to name free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose consistent demonstrations before San Fransisco 49ers games last year drew wide criticism.

Asked whether he would consider signing Kaepernick, a possibility knocked around more and more by media types and fans as an ailing elbow kept backup Nick Foles sidelined throughout the preseason, Lurie said he had no idea. He's very happy with the team's quarterbacks, he said.

Kaepernick opted out of his deal with the 49ers in March and still has yet to sign with another NFL team.

But he disagreed with the notion that teams have blackballed the 29-year-old, who led the 49ers to a pair of NFC championship games and a Superbowl appearance in five seasons.

"The definition of blacklist is some discussion amongst people to not hire or not approve or something like that. I've never had a discussion with anybody (about Kaepernick)," Lurie said. "It doesn't work that way.

"There's no discussion that ever takes place about any player. In my 23 years in the league, I've never heard any discussion of a player like that."

The full press conference can be found here.