Add Malcolm Jenkins’ voice to those in favor of Jay-Z’s new partnership with the NFL. The Eagles’ outspoken safety said the league should be highlighting more high-profile billionaires of color and using their influential platforms to their advantage.
It was reported over the weekend by TMZ Sports that Jay-Z is interested in owning an NFL franchise or at least taking a minority stake in a team. The news came on the heels of him meeting with commissioner Roger Goodell and agreeing to help advise on and produce musical performances, including the Super Bowl. Jay-Z has received a ton of backlash from fellow social reform activists like Eric Reid, Kenny Stills and Colin Kaepernick.
Jenkins has long worn his own activism as a badge of honor and has served on panels with Michelle Obama and Meek Mill. Jenkins’ support of Jay-Z shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone following him on social media. He is constantly looking for pragmatic ways to enact change as it pertains to hot-button issues like social injustice and mass incarcerations. Jay-Z should be a valuable ally in those fights.
“To sit across from billionaires and sit and talk about why they should be important is what the NFL should be highlighting,” Jenkins told reporters, “and somebody like Jay-Z who can add to that conversation and does things on a daily basis and has a history of doing those things helps us as players. To have an ally like that … I’m looking forward to seeing what that turns into.”
Not all have embraced Jay-Z’s power move. As mentioned above, Reid immediately rushed to Kaepernick’s defense and criticized the rapper. Reid and Kaepernick had been teammates in San Francisco.
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Eric Reid & Malcolm Jenkins Have Long History
These two NFL defensive backs have a long sordid history stemming from a February 2018 incident when Reid and Kaepernick refused to attend a meeting with the Players’ Coalition, a group co-founded by Jenkins to “make an impact on social justice and racial equality.” But Reid didn’t think the advocacy organization was doing enough and wanted to form a new entity, one “in which Colin will be at the helm and the protesting players [will] move forward in communication with the NFL to address the systematic oppression of black and brown people,” according to The Undefeated.
Reid called Jenkins a “sellout” and escalated the quarrel after his Carolina Panthers beat the Eagles 21-17 last November. Reid had to be physically restrained by Eagles receiver Torrey Smith and others as he charged midfield and shouted at Jenkins before the coin toss. The drama unfolded before a national audience and ESPN chronicled the ugly war of words.
Reid, while on defense, continued to stare at Jenkins on the Philadelphia sideline, where Jenkins was standing on the first few series.
After the game, Reid said Jenkins “capitalized on the situation.” Reid, the first player to join Kaepernick in kneeling when both played for the San Francisco 49ers, added, “He co-opted with the movement that was started by Colin to get his organization started. It was cowardly. He sold us out.”
While Kaepernick tweeted out his support for Reid, Jenkins took the high road.
“I would never get up here and say anything bad about somebody who I know whose intentions were real about helping the community, especially another black man,” Jenkins said, via ESPN. “So I’m going to leave it at that.”
Jenkins Continues to Fight the Good Fight
The Players Coalition remains a top priority for Jenkins as he continues to advocate on behalf of those affected by racial and social inequality. The organization was appropriated $8.5 million from the NFL to be used on causes chosen by the players themselves. On Monday, Jenkins posted a letter naming some of the initiatives the Players Coalition had helped bring to fruition, including nearly $3.5 million going to programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters, Operation HOPE, the Civil Rights Corps and Gideon’s Promise, among others.
Jenkins admitted: “We ain’t perfect but we’re all fighting and working to make a difference for the people. It ain’t about us, it’s always been about the people. Thank you to those who do this work everyday!”