Let’s get one thing clear: Malcolm Jenkins never wanted to leave Philadelphia. He loved wearing the midnight green and playing in front of Eagles fans.
Jenkins’s departure in free agency — or the team’s unwillingness to meet him halfway on a new contract — has made an already trying time in history a bit bleaker. The 11-year veteran spent six seasons in Philly and quickly ascended to both a fan-favorite player and the undisputed locker room leader. Jenkins recently penned a first-person letter for The Players Tribune called “Philly, Can We Stil Be Friends?” where he reiterated his desire to remain on the Eagles’ roster this year and recalled his personal highlights in midnight green.
More importantly, the 32-year-old safety specifically thanks owner Jeffrey Lurie, head coach Doug Pederson, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and every single fan in the City of Brotherly Love. One name omitted from his heartfelt thank you letter was GM Howie Roseman. Maybe it wasn’t intentional but something seemed off.
It’s my legacy that I’m concerned with.
And it’s no secret that I wanted a new deal — no secret that I felt like I deserved one. Not so I could be the highest-paid player at my position (even though I regard myself as being of that caliber), but so I could cement my legacy in Philadelphia forever. I wanted a deal that showed me that my sacrifices to the game have been recognized. I’m no idiot. I know money is tied to timing, market value, age, the draft, and so on. But legacy? That’s tied to the player, and to the name on the back of his jersey.
Unfortunately, for whatever reason, I wasn’t able to ensure that my name would end up on the back of an Eagles jersey this year. But hopefully the legacy that I leave behind will last in the most important way: over time. And maybe then, maybe one day in the future when I’ve hung up my cleats, I can be in the company of the Eagles greats. It would be a dream come true.
Brian Dawkins vs. Malcolm Jenkins
Malcolm Jenkins will most likely go down in Eagles lore as the second-greatest safety to play in Philadelphia, right behind Brian Dawkins. The latter was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018. There will never be another Brian Dawkins, aka Weapon X, aka Wolverine.
However, the career parallels between the two safeties are eerily similar. Especially in the way in which each player’s tenure ended. The Eagles decided to part ways with both men in their football twilight years (Dawkins was 31 years old when he left via free agency; Jenkins is 32) and those decisions didn’t appear to be mutual. Dawkins has repeatedly said his wish was to stay in Philly and retire an Eagle. Jenkins told The Players Tribune that he “never wanted to leave Philadelphia.”
I want to establish two truths upfront that are not mutually exclusive.
One: I’m excited as hell to be going back to New Orleans.
And two: I sincerely never wanted to leave Philadelphia.
Let’s tackle that second part first. Forget everything else you’ve heard, and just trust me on this: Money has NEVER been my motivator. For me, it’s always been LEGACY that I value most.
Jenkins’ Favorite Moment: Watching Clock Expire in Super Bowl LII
One other snippet from Malcolm Jenkins’ letter to The Players Tribune included some of his favorite moments playing for the Eagles. He mentioned his first game where the Eagles were down 17-0 early to Jacksonville and hearing the fans heartily boo the team off the field. Jenkins said he would have booed, too. “They’re going to be tough, but they’re going to be fair,” he said. For the record, the Eagles came all the way back to win that contest.
But his most treasured memory wasn’t the epic Super Bowl parade down Broad Street or putting that vicious hit on Brandin Cooks that set the tone early in Super Bowl LII. No, it was when the clock showed quadruple zeroes on Feb. 4, 2018. Jenkins said he “dropped to my knees and felt tears of relief fall down my face” as he soaked in the glory of Philly’s first-ever Lombardi Trophy.
Not necessarily relief over winning the game or a championship in and of itself, if that makes sense. It was more like over what the win meant. It was about how deeply I’d tethered myself to the spirit and plight of Philadelphia. It was about what I’d been carrying on my shoulders: For one, the hope of a fan base that had never felt the thrill of a Super Bowl championship — absolutely. But also the hope of so many citizens who needed their stories of injustice lifted up upon a stage as tall as the Super Bowl.
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