Eagles' Chris Long on anthem embrace: 'I'm here to show support as a white athlete'

For the past 12 months, Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins has been raising a fist over his head during the national anthem as a way to protest social injustice. 

Jenkins has been one of several dozen African-American players across the NFL who have protested during the anthem over the past year. However, one thing the protest has been missing is the support of a white player. 

Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett actually mentioned this week that the support of a white player would go a long way toward helping the cause. 

Although we haven't seen a white player protest during the anthem yet, Eagles defensive end Chris Long did offer support for the cause before Philadelphia's game against Buffalo on Thursday. While the national anthem was being played, Long went up to Jenkins and put his hand on his back. 

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Chris Long showed support for Malcolm Jenkins' during the national anthem.  Screengrab via NBC Philadelphia

For Long, it was important to show support for his new teammate. 

"It's just telling Malcolm, 'I am here for you,' and I think it's a good time for people who look like me to be here for people fighting for equality," Long said, via ESPN.com.

The 2017 season will be Long's first year in Philadelphia after spending the first nine seasons of his career with the Rams and Patriots. Although Long doesn't plan on ever taking the knee during the national anthem, he said there's other ways that white players can show their support. 

"I've heard a lot of people say you need white athletes to get involved in the anthem protests," Long said. "I've said before I'll never kneel for an anthem, because the flag means something different for everybody in this country, but I support my peers. And if you don't see why you need allies for people that are fighting for equality right now, I don't think you'll ever see it. So my thing is, Malcolm is a leader, and I'm here to show support as a white athlete."

It's no coincidence that Long decided to show support for Jenkins this week. Long is a native of Charlottesville, Virginia, and he was horrified by what he saw in his hometown over the weekend when a group of white supremacists held a large rally that eventually led to the death of one woman. 

"This isn't political. That's the thing. Everybody is trying to turn this political. This isn't a political issue. This is right or wrong," Long said, via CSN Philly. "I believe you're on one side or the other. For me, being from Charlottesville, no one wants to see you sit idly by and watch that stuff happen and not say anything."

Since Long couldn't help out in Charlottesville, he decided he would show support for Jenkins and the safety's protest during the national anthem. 

"I was inspired by a lot of the allies that were there to stand up against hate in my hometown, and I wasn't able to be there to protest or to stand up against hate. People like Heather Heyer gave their lives for that, and I was inspired by that," Long said. 

Like Bennett, Jenkins was glad that a white athlete wanted to get involved. 

"I think it is important to show, especially for a white male to show, that although these problems don't necessarily affect you, you can still see the significance in it, you can still be in support of your brothers that are going through it," Jenkins said.

Although there aren't as many players protesting during the national anthem this year, Jenkins has already said that he plans to protest for the entire season

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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