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Volume 25 No. 154
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NFL Cardinals President, Players Talk Social Justice With Governor

The team didn’t publicize the meeting, and the understanding was it wouldn't be used for political purposes
Photo: DOUG DUCEY

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey met with NFL Cardinals President Michael Bidwill and three players to "discuss criminal justice and prison reform," according to Kent Somers of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. The meeting is part of Bidwill "fulfilling a promise he made to players a year ago when they stood for the anthem" after President Trump criticized the league. Cardinals DT Corey Peters said Bidwill met with several players before the game that week and promised to "try to get us in front of some lawmakers, some people who really influence change." That happened on Tuesday when Bidwill, Peters and DBs Antoine Bethea and Tre Boston "met with the governor at his office." The Cardinals "didn’t publicize the meeting, and the understanding was they would not be used as props for political purposes." The meeting was important because it is the "type of conversation NFL players have tried to start" since Colin Kaepernick began "protesting during the national anthem" in '16. Boston said, "It’s a good first step. We’re talking about prisons and the population of prisons. We want to get back to a civilized number, where the people who are going to jail and prison are people who truly deserve it." Peters said that the next step for players is to "raise money to help people being released from prison get another chance" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 9/13).

SPREADING THE MESSAGE: ESPN.com's Tim MacManus noted Eagles S Malcolm Jenkins and the Players Coalition are in the "process of unveiling their most ambitious initiative yet aimed at making significant changes in the criminal justice system." Pieces of that plan were "revealed Sunday night as more than 30 of Philadelphia’s most prominent leaders and elected officials" met to discuss how they could "help support the players’ vision." Jenkins explained that the Coalition is "organizing a large event slated for later in the fall in Philadelphia, which will be centered around assisting those making the transition from prison to civilian life." Once the blueprint is established, the idea is to "replicate the event in other NFL cities." The purpose of "gathering all of the influencers in one room was not just about planning a single event." It was to "connect them all ... to ensure the essential components of a complicated system are communicating with one another moving forward to promote greater efficiency." Jenkins, Eagles DE Chris Long and S Rodney McLeod "met with chief public defenders from across the country in June to gain a deeper understanding of this issue and figure out what proactive measures they could take to help in the fight to change the system." They have started to "implement their action plan, which includes using their platforms to educate the public about cash bail" (ESPN.com, 9/12).

DIFFERENT ROUTE: USA TODAY's Jarrett Bell notes on Tuesday, Jenkins and Long "released a powerful, 90-second video on social media" that gave a "quick primer on the bail system and hammered home that too many people -- 70% of those in jail, they contend, have not been convicted -- are too poor to purchase freedom before their trials." They concluded their presentation by "urging the end of the cash bail system." Jenkins has taken his activism in "myriad ways beyond protests" as a means of "advancing his causes while minimizing controversy." That is "not to suggest" that Kaepernick "wasn’t effective in kneeling in protest during the anthem." Jenkins has just "taken a different track" (USA TODAY, 9/13).