Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson is weighing in on the ongoing national anthem debate, saying that while the issue has divided the nation his team remains one cohesive unit.
“You know, it’s something I started my first year and it’s obviously a subject that can be, I don’t want it to be divisive or split our team in two and the thing is our team is very cohesive,” Pederson said Friday in an interview on CBS This Morning. “We’re a one sort of a one-mind team and I understand that our players honor the flag and they honor the men and women of the military and the armed forces and sometimes with these players, and guys like Malcolm Jenkins, who has been a tremendous leader of our football team, not only on the field but also off the field and what he’s done in creating awareness to a lot of social injustices that plague our players. Our players are not immune to the things that are going on in society. It’s obviously an ongoing debate with the league and the players association and it’s still their right to do that.”
Eagles players Malcolm Jenkins and Michael Bennett have been outspoken in defending their right to take a knee during the anthem to protest social injustice, and both remained off the field during the ceremony before their game against the Cleveland Browns Thursday night.
Pederson, meanwhile, who led Philadelphia to its first Super Bowl victory in franchise history last season, attributes his team’s understanding of the national anthem issue to the same thing he attributes its success: transparency.
“For me it was just about staying the course, staying true to who I believe that I am, being open, being honest, being transparent with the players, being firm with the players but at the same time listening to the players,” Pederson said. “And I think that’s been the difference for me, is listening to the guys and that’s what helped us win this championship… It was just the connection that our team had all season long that helped us win.”