PHILADELPHIA (CBSNewYork/AP) — A Philadelphia Eagles rookie has reversed course and will now stand for the national anthem.
Linebacker Myke Tavarres told ESPN on Monday that he planned to follow the lead of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and sit while “The Star-Spangled Banner” is played before the Eagles preseason game against the New York Jets on Thursday.
However, several hours later, Tavarres’ agent told NJ.com’s Eagles reporter Eliot Shorr-Parks that the player will stand because he doesn’t want to be a distraction.
In the interview with ESPN, Tavarres revealed he considered sitting during the anthem before the Eagles game against the Colts on Saturday.
“Oh, I thought about it. Believe me, I definitely thought about it,” Tavarres told ESPN. “And usually I’m front and center on the line with the rest of the guys, and that’s since pre-K all the way up. Saturday’s game, I stepped back, I was in the background, and it didn’t feel right to me at all, and so I will be taking a stand – or sitting down – for the fourth game.”
Kaepernick touched off a national firestorm after refusing to stand for the anthem before the 49ers’ preseason loss to the Green Bay Packers on Friday. The quarterback told reporters on Sunday he plans to sit through the national anthem for as long as he feels is appropriate and until he sees significant progress — specifically when it comes to race relations in the United States.
“I’m going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed,” Kaepernick said. “To me this is something that has to change. When there’s significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, this country is representing people the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.”
Tavarres, an undrafted rookie out of the University of the Incarnate Wood in San Antonio, Texas, said the 49ers quarterback is doing a “great job for standing up in what he believes in.”
“We’ve got an issue in this country in this day and age, and I feel like somebody needs to step up and we all need to step up,” he explained to ESPN. “We’ve got that right. There’s just a lot going on that people don’t want to talk about, and I feel like us as athletes, we’re looked at as role models. And I feel like with Colin Kaepernick, he’s doing a great job for standing up in what he believes in, and most people may not like that, but that’s his opinion, he’s entitled to it, and I respect him for doing it.”
Tavarres previously said he “nothing to lose” by sitting out the anthem before changing his position later on.
“In this situation, I’ve really got nothing to lose,” he told ESPN. “I’m a rookie free agent, haven’t signed any major contract, so there’s not a lot of money on the line, I don’t have any big endorsement deals on the line. Really what’s at stake is my pride and what kind of man would I be and what kind of African-American would I be if I didn’t stand my ground on this issue we have today?”
He continued, “[It] needs to be done. Will there be backlash? Probably. I don’t think anyone has bought my jersey yet, so I don’t know if it’s going to be burned, but it’s a major issue and I’m definitely going to stand my ground for this one.”
Tavarres was referring to people on social media burning Kaepernick’s jersey in protest of him not standing during the national anthem.
Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said the team respects an “individual’s freedom of expression.”
“We respect the national anthem, its history and our many freedoms as Americans that it celebrates,” Pederson said. “We also respect an individual’s freedom of expression.”
New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz is against the protest, saying Saturday following their victory over the Jets that you have to “respect the flag.”
“I think, personally, the flag is the flag,” Cruz told NJ.com. “Regardless of how you feel about things that are going on in America today and things that are going on across the world with gun violence and things of that nature, you’ve got to respect the flag.
“You’ve got to stand up with your teammates. It’s bigger than just you, in my opinion. I think you go up there, your with your team, and you pledge your allegiance to the flag and sing the national anthem with your team. And then you go about your business no matter what your beliefs are.”
Kaepernick hasn’t stood for the anthem in any of the team’s three preseason games “and I don’t see it as going about it the wrong way.”
Now, Kaepernick is prepared for whatever comes next.
“I think there’s a lot of consequences that come along with this. There’s a lot of people that don’t want to have this conversation,” he said. “They’re scared they might lose their job. Or they might not get the endorsements. They might not to be treated the same way. Those are things I’m prepared to handle. …
“At this point, I’ve been blessed to be able to get this far and have the privilege of being able to be in the NFL, making the kind of money I make and enjoy luxuries like that. I can’t look in the mirror and see people dying on the street that should have the same opportunities that I’ve had.”
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