Doug Pederson is the leader of a group of predominately Black men who are dealing with the pain of racial injustice in America. This week, the team has discussed and spoken out about Jacob Blake, who was shot in the back seven times by a police officer and left paralyzed in Kenosha, Wis.
Pederson’s upbringing in Bellingham, Wash., surrounded by a mostly white community, didn’t prepare him for the role he currently has, he said. Pederson said his experience in football, playing both in college and the NFL before becoming an NFL assistant coach in 2009, has made the difference.
“I didn’t have many Black families in my community, in my high school,” Pederson said. “I grew up primarily in a white community, and it wasn’t until I really went to college that I was around Black athletes and their families. And I told my teams I don’t understand where a lot of these players – just where they grew up and some of the life struggles that they’ve gone through at early ages, most of these players.
“So for me, and like I told the guys the other day, it’s like, some of my dearest friends obviously were my teammates and my Black teammates and still stay in touch with those guys today,” he added. “Whether it was college or my playing days in the NFL, and just getting to know them and understand them and kind of hear a little bit about their stories and where they come from and their upbringing and the cities they grew up in.”
The Eagles formed a social justice committee a few years ago, and it was to have met on Friday, according to Eagles safety Rodney McLeod. Pederson, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, and general manager Howie Roseman are a part of the committee, along with several players and former players now in the front office, such as Connor Barwin.
Pederson said his role on the committee is to continue learning what so many of his players go through emotionally.
“As a leader, as the coach of these guys, it’s my job to listen, to help facilitate, to support. And that’s where we are right now,” he said. “A lot of our Black players are hurting from the standpoint of this is close to home for many of them. So for me, it’s about understanding. It’s about learning. It’s about gaining knowledge, and then being able to support our guys.”
Pederson played in the NFL from 1993-2004, including one season with the Eagles as a backup quarterback. He said his first real chance to learn about what Black communities deal with was during his college career at Louisiana-Monroe, formerly known as Northeast Louisiana University.
He said he’s noticed a change in the way the NFL handles racial injustices and players speaking out.
“Players obviously have a bigger impact today,” Pederson said. “I think their platforms are bigger today. They need to use that in a positive way today and try to promote and create healthy change in our communities, in our society, and hopefully in our country and our world. And so I think from that — because social media is so great, and a lot of these guys use social media in such a positive way, as I said, to help facilitate change.”
Sidney Jones returns to team drills
Eagles cornerback Sidney Jones made his full return to training camp Saturday after missing most of the padded practices held in the last two weeks with a lower-body injury.
The 24-year-old made a partial return to practice on Wednesday but mostly did individual work and conditioning instead of participating in team drills. Players were in shorts and shells after having Friday off.
Jones worked in with the second-team defense as an outside cornerback, while Avonte Maddox and Darius Slay held down the first-team reps at the position. Jones last got team reps on the second day of padded practices. Eagles safety Marcus Epps also returned to team drills Saturday.
Quez Watkins missed practice with an upper-body injury with a day-to-day designation, and Dallas Goedert sat out of practice because of a planned day off.
Slay apologizes for social media joke
Slay apologized on Twitter Saturday for sharing a video of a police officer getting hit by a trash can lid, knocking them to the ground.
In a now-deleted tweet, Slay joked that the person who threw the object at the officer was “Captain America.”
“Yesterday I made a comment on a post that, at the time, seemed harmless to me,” the statement read. “If you know me, you know I’m a funny, outgoing type of guy. I made a comment that seemed humorous at the time, but I meant no harm. I do not condone law enforcement violence whatsoever, especially with everything going on now. To anyone I offended, I do apologize.”