NEW YORK (CBS NEWS) — In an interview on “CBS This Morning” Friday, Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson addressed the ongoing debate over whether NFL players should be allowed to protest during the national anthem. Asked how he’s approached the controversy with his players, Pederson said it hasn’t “divided our team whatsoever.”
“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. 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,” Pederson said.
Eagles players Malcolm Jenkins and Michael Bennett remained off the field during the national anthem in their game against the Cleveland Browns Thursday night. Earlier this month, President Donald Trump renewed his attacks on NFL players who protest the national anthem, tweeting that “most of them are unable to define” what they are demonstrating against.
Pederson has been called one of the most innovative and dynamic coaches in the NFL. Last season, after losing star quarterback Carson Wentz to injury, Pederson led the “underdog” Eagles to their first Super Bowl victory in franchise history against the New England Patriots. He’s out with a new memoir inspired by that experience called, “Fearless: How an Underdog Becomes a Champion.”
“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. 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,” Pederson said.
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