Jenkins Will Not Protest During Anthem Following NFL's Pledge To Social Causes
Eagles S Malcolm Jenkins does "not plan to protest" during the national anthem this weekend after the Players Coalition joined the NFL in a partnership that will see the league contribute $89M over seven years to projects dealing with criminal justice reform, law enforcement/community relations and education, according to Tim McManus of ESPN.com. Jenkins said, "I know a lot of people have kind of made a big deal about the money that the league has proposed, but I'm more concerned and more interested in the platform they're proposing. The reason I started raising my fist in the first place is to draw awareness to injustices in this country, disenfranchised people of color. I wanted to draw awareness." He added, "What the league is proposing is a platform and a campaign similar to what they've done with breast cancer awareness, My Cause, My Cleats, Salute to Service, but hopefully in an even bigger manner. ... All of this really is in good faith, and I think if the league continues to come through or deliver on their word, then I see no need to go back to what I was doing." Seahawks DE Michael Bennett called the donation a "great gesture" on the NFL's part. He said, "Most organizations aren't trying to find ways to give back, but I guess this is something that the players really want, and the players really want to be a part of, and I think the ownership wants to too, so we're just finding a way to do it" (ESPN.com, 11/30). Jenkins said that this is "not about the money the league is investing, because he 'wouldn't just accept a check and move on.'" He added that it is about the "platform the league will provide to fight these causes" (PHILLY.com, 11/30). Jenkins said that there was "no pressure put on by the league to stop the anthem protests in exchange for the NFL's support" (Delaware NEWS JOURNAL, 12/1).
MAKING PROGRESS: In N.Y., Manish Mehta notes former NFLer Anquan Boldin, who along with Jenkins heads up the Players Coalition, is "pleased with the latest agreement" with the league. He said, "It was big of the NFL to listen to its players and the concerns that players have had over the years. It's definitely something that's near and dear to a number of players in the NFL. I think the NFL got it right." He added, "One of the reasons that guys were protesting was to have a platform where they could feel that their voice was being heard. If the NFL is giving you that platform -- and to be quite honest, they're even amplifying that voice -- why would you protest during NFL games? I think there's incentive enough to get guys to stop protesting, but I don't think that was the NFL's thought process. Talking to several owners, they felt that it wasn't just an issue for players, but it was an issue for us as a country. And they felt that getting behind that was the right thing to do" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/1). Giants LB Olivier Vernon said that he "was heartened to hear the news this week" about the NFL contributing to money to players' causes. Vernon, the last Giants player continuing the kneel during the anthem, said, "Making progress, moving forward. ... It sounds like it's great movement to a good direction." He said that this is "why he kneels during the national anthem and why he will continue to do so for the remainder of the season" (N.Y. POST, 12/1).
REDISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH? 49ers S Eric Reid earlier this week broke from the Players Coalition and said that he has "been told the NFL is planning to allow owners to shift money that's been pledged to other charitable giving campaigns" into the social justice causes. SLATE.com's Jeremy Stahl reported the apparent plan to "redistribute funding from breast cancer awareness and military service initiatives was one of a number of reasons Reid says he has walked away from the Players Coalition." Reid said that Jenkins "mentioned the idea that the league might shuffle money around during conversations with Reid and other players." Reid: “In the discussion that we had, Malcolm conveyed to us -- based on discussions that he had with the NFL -- that the money would come from funds that are already allocated to breast cancer awareness and Salute to Service. So it would really be no skin off the owners’ backs: They would just move the money from those programs to this one.” He added, "We didn’t agree with that, because we weren’t trying to cut other worthy programs." Stahl noted Dolphins S Michael Thomas and Chargers OT Russell Okung "joined Reid on Wednesday in announcing their decisions to leave the Players Coalition" (SLATE.com, 11/30).
A START, BUT STILL QUESTIONS: USA TODAY's Nancy Armour writes this effort is "a start." This agreement is "not perfect, by any means," and the announcement "left as many questions as it answered -- how, specifically, it will be funded being the most obvious one." It could be argued that the NFL "could easily afford larger contributions, both at the league and team levels," and there could be a question of "whether the NFL will dig deeper into its pockets for its contributions or simply shift the money it already gives around." The agreement is "not perfect," but we are "never going to heal our divisions with the way we’re going." At least this is a "start in the right direction" (USA TODAY, 12/1). Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones on Thursday said, "There's no question that everybody has the right sensitivities to our social issues. I know everybody has their heart in the right place, those players are trying to do the right thing, I know the league is trying to do the right things, advance the ball on these social issues" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 12/1).