Malcolm Jenkins and Chris Long

Black NFL players are being bullied by their respective owners through the new policy outlawing protests during the national anthem.

Most don’t like this extortion, but it remains to be seen what action they will take once the season begins.

The NFL is being bullied by President Trump, yet again, and it remains to be seen what action it will take in the wake of Monday’s latest nonsense out of the White House.

Faced with the realization that less than 10 players from the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles were going to show up for a celebration at the White House on Tuesday, Trump cancelled the event on Monday.

Of course, Trump played to his base and lied about why the event was cancelled.

His statement said the Eagles “disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country.”

This total and complete balderdash.

The Eagles had no players kneel during the 2017 season. Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod stood during the anthem with a fist held in the air. Former St. Louis Ram Chris Long stood with his hand on his heart, but with his other hand on Jenkins’ back. That was the extent of the Eagles’ protest.

Both Jenkins and Long made it clear last February that they would not attend a White House celebration. Reportedly, no black players were headed to the White House and few white ones.

Jenkins, a vocal critic of Trump, has been stalwart in working with Congressional members of both parties and local officials on social justice issues. Long blasted the president for his support of Neo-Nazis and KKK members who attacked peaceful protestors in Charlottesville, Virginia last summer.

Former Eagle wide receiver Torrey Smith rightfully called Trump cowardly for his action, which the Eagles learned via the media.

“There are a lot of people on the team that have plenty of different views. The men and women that wanted to go should've been able to go. It's a cowardly act to cancel the celebration because the majority of the people don't want to see you,” he shared on Twitter.

Smith also wrote, “So many lies. Here are some facts 1. Not many people were going to go

2. No one refused to go simply because Trump “insists” folks stand for the anthem.  3. The President continues to spread the false narrative that players are anti-military.”

Trump’s ego would let him lead a celebration that featured about one-sixth of a team. He probably could care less about the absence of black players, but the fact that white players were passing on the visit really stung.

He, once again, is trying to create his own reality.

The sad part is that the NFL and the Eagles organization are letting him get away with it.

Rather than challenge Trump’s action, the Eagles released this statement which does not mention Trump:

“It has been incredibly thrilling to celebrate our first Super Bowl Championship. Watching the entire Eagles community come together has been an inspiration. We are truly grateful for all of the support we have received and we are looking forward to continuing our preparations for the 2018 season.”

Owner Jeffrey Lurie reportedly blasted Trump’s statements regarding players who were protesting and was critical of the president in a private NFL meeting last fall. He was planning on attending the White House ceremony, as were coach Doug Pederson and his wife.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney issued a statement that included, “Fans all across the country rallied behind (the Eagles) because we like to root for the underdog and we feel joy when we see the underdogs finally win.

“I'm equally proud of the Eagles' activism off the field. These are players who stand up for the causes they believe in and who contribute in meaningful ways to their community. They represent the diversity of our nation-a nation in which we are free to express our opinions.”

Note to St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson; this is what a real mayor sounds like.

Note to the NFL; it’s time to take on the president like you take on anyone or anything else that gets in your way.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk said Tuesday the NFL should quit turning its tail and running.

“You have two options when dealing with a bully. You can ignore him and hope he finds someone else to bully and leaves you alone. Or you can fight back.

“The NFL should be using the second option because they are using the first and it’s obvious it’s not working. The NFL keeps placating, it keeps capitulating. Stand up for yourself and fight.”

The same NFL that chose to bully its players is getting the same treatment from the president.

Last week, when the new anthem policy was announced, Long said, “I think it was driven by fear of a diminished bottom line. And the underlying factor is that they are afraid of the president.”

Jenkins called out the NFL for targeting a specific group of players.

“We don’t have these types of policies for the other causes that we support, whether it is our Salute to Service, breast cancer awareness or anything else,” he said.

“It’s just when you start talking about black folks. It’s disheartening.”

The players don’t like being bullied, and it sounds like many of them are willing to fight back.

The owners don’t like being bullied, but they are either to chummy with the president or too scared of him to act.

Standing Pat

When the Kansas City Chiefs moved up in the 2017 draft to select Patrick Mahomes it was clear that he would be taking over for incumbent starting quarterback Alex Smith sooner rather than later.

Smith was traded to the Washington Redskins during the offseason and Mahomes, one of a growing number of black quarterbacks in the NFL, will be at the Chiefs’ helm.

There is a buzz in Kansas City as the season nears. Mahomes is often spotted at Royals games, concerts and community events. He is a fan favorite after starting – and winning – just one game last year.

It came out this week that Mahomes turned down several endorsement opportunities last year because he was not the starting quarterback.

“We talked about how the first year the goal was to integrate into the team, and the only way to do that is to pay deference to the incumbent veterans and try not to go into the situation with a high profile,” Mahomes’ agent Leigh Steinberg told ESPN.

“We intentionally didn’t do endorsements that would run in the Kansas City area even though they were offered. We didn’t want him to be on billboards and everything when he wasn’t even playing.”

Charles Goldman of USA TODAY’ ChiefsWire wrote, “(Mahomes) wants to make sure everyone knows how serious he is about being great in the league. I think turning down truck loads of endorsement money is probably a pretty good indication of how serious he is about being a great player.”

I agree with Goldman’s assessment. For the first time in a long time, I plan to travel to Kansas City to see a Chiefs game, primarily to see Mahomes in action. I probably won’t be alone.

Holt catching on as coach

During his 11-year career, of which 10 seasons were with the St. Louis Rams, receiver Torry Holt caught 920 passes for 85 for touchdowns.

He is now passing some of his knowledge to the Los Angeles Rams receiving corps. Holt has been working as a coach during Rams OTAs and likes the feeling of being back on the field.

“(I’m) just trying to get a feel for coaching, and if this is something that I want to pursue maybe going forward,” Holt told the L.A. Times.

Holt is participating in the Bill Walsh Diversity Fellowship program, which exposes minority coaches to team operations as coaches and in the front office.

He has already created a compilation of strengths of each Rams’ receiver and how they can improve.

“They want to figure out how they can improve their position, their craft and that’s what I talk to them about – details, improving, asking questions, being a student of the game,” Holt said.

Holt was a seven-time Pro Bowler, had at least 1,300 receiving yards from 2000-05 and topped 1,000 yards eight times. He helped the Rams win the Super Bowl his rookie season of 1999 and set a record for rookie reception yards in the game.

“He brings a unique perspective from a player that’s had as much success as anybody, understanding the nuances of the receiver position, how to separate,” coach Sean McVay said.

The Rams being in L.A., and not St. Louis, doesn’t bother Holt, unlike many bitter fans in this area.

“They were awesome last year,” Holt said of the Rams’ 11-5 season and playoff appearance.

“I’m looking forward to them being better with the details and going another step further. That’s what it’s all about.”

Alvin A. Reid was honored as the 2017 “Best Sports Columnist – Weeklies” in the Missouri Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest and is a New York Times contributor. He is a panelist on the Nine Network program, Donnybrook, a weekly contributor to “The Charlie Tuna Show” on KFNS and appears monthly on “The Dave Glover Show” on 97.1 Talk.” His Twitter handle is @aareid1.

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