Updated: Eagles' Tavarres rescinds pledge to sit out national anthem
The Eagles rookie originally said he has nothing to lose and wants to take a stand against racial injustice. "Really what's at stake is my pride," he told ESPN. He rescinded that pledge later Monday.
After planning to follow Colin Kaepernick's lead and sit out the national anthem before Thursday's NFL preseason game against the New York Jets at Lincoln Financial Field, an Eagles rookie rescinded his pledge.
Hours after Myke Tavarres told ESPN on Monday that he planned to sit during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner before the Eagles' fourth and final preseason game, his agent, Corey Williams, told a national NFL reporter that his client changed his mind.
In a statement, Eagles coach Doug Pederson said, "We respect the national anthem, its history and our many freedoms as Americans that it celebrates. We also respect an individual's freedom of expression."
Tavarres told ESPN on Monday that he had "thought about" sitting out the anthem Saturday before the Eagles played the Colts in Indianapolis. And for this week's game, he had said, he would do it.
"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," Tavarres told ESPN. "And so I will be taking a stand -- or sitting down -- for the fourth game."
Kaepernick, who is biracial and was adopted by a white family, caused a national stir after refusing to stand for the anthem before a preseason game on Friday night. He said he'd done this at the earlier exhibition games and no one noticed.
He later told NFL.com: "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color."
"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," Tavarres told ESPN Monday. "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 told ESPN that he was hoping to survive roster cuts and make the Eagles' 53-man roster as a special teams contributor.
"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."