It appears the NFL has finally made progress in regards to curbing some of its national anthem protests.
According to reports, Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins has canceled his protests during the national anthem due to the agreement between the NFL and the Players Coalition whereby the NFL will contribute $89 million over seven years to projects dealing with criminal justice reform, law enforcement/community relations and education.
“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,” Jenkins, who co-founded the Players Coalition along with Anquan Boldin, told ESPN. “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.
“And so I think 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,” Jenkins said. “And if we’re able to amplify our voices to showcase those causes, those issues, to highlight grass-roots organizations who are doing the work and need support, to tell the stories of those people who have been wronged or left out, I think that’s even more valuable than the cash amount. So hopefully, in good faith, that gets built out.”
Jenkins’ national anthem protest — the act of raising a fist in the air as a sign of black power — will officially come to an end this Sunday when the Eagles take on the Seahawks in Seattle.
Jenkins first started his protests in Week 2 of last season, shortly after Colin Kaepernick began the movement during the 2016 pre-season.
“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,” Jenkins added.
Despite Jenkins decision to cancel his protests, not all of the players who are protesting are following suit.
Eric Reid of the 49ers, Michael Thomas of the Dolphins and Russell Okung of the Chargers have all announced they have broken away from the Players Coalition over the deal.
Reid sent a tweet with their reasons for leaving.
— Eric Reid (@E_Reid35) November 29, 2017
“The Players Coalition was supposed to be formed as a group that represents NFL Athletes who have been silently protesting social injustices and racism,” Reid wrote. “However, Malcolm [Jenkins] and Anquan [Boldin] can no longer speak on our behalf as we don’t believe the coalition’s beliefs are in our best interests as a whole.”
ESPN reports that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was “furious” over the decision by Reid, Thomas and Okung.
“It’s been a trying process for the last year-and-a-half,” Jenkins said. “And I’m sure even moving forward there’s going to be some growing pains and things we need to move through. But at the end of the day, I’m focused on solutions and outcomes. I really want to make an impact in my community, I want to make sure we do it in the right manner and that we accomplish what we set out to do when we first started to protest as players.”
Although the agreement between the NFL and the Players Coalition does not include language that requires the players to end their protests, Jenkins believes the goals of the protests have been met.
“I think that’s going to come down to each and every person,” said Jenkins on whether or not players would continue to protest. “I know for me, I’m less concerned about the money and more concerned about the awareness, because I feel like the opportunity to use the NFL’s stage will draw more money than we’d ever be able to do on our own.”
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