By Oren Peleg
Looking for a rooting interest in Super Bowl LII? Get to know a key player on the field a little better and see if it tips the scales.
On the field, Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins is always in the middle of the action, making tackles and picking off passes. But earlier this season, Jenkins, an active NFL Players Association (NFLPA) member and his team’s Player Representative, was in the headlines for his off-the-field involvement in an employee-employer controversy.
Many NFL players spent this season kneeling during pregame national anthem ceremonies to protest in social justice causes, such as police brutality and criminal justice reform. Their employer, the NFL, reached out to negotiate an end to protests with a player-led NFLPA coalition headed up by Jenkins.
To better understand social justice matters that he and other African-American players were fighting for, Jenkins visited a prison and went on a ride-along with Philadelphia police officers. After negotiations with the NFL, the league’s leadership proposed a plan to donate $100 million towards social justice causes benefiting the African-American community.
Many, like Philadelphia Inquirer sports columnist Bob Brookover, lauded Jenkins for his efforts in negotiations. “Securing $100 million from the league in order to advance causes that impact African Americans sure sounds like progress and good work,” Brookover wrote in a November column.
But some of Jenkins’ fellow NFL players and other outside critics saw the move as essentially a bribe to shut down players’ peaceful sideline protests. Eric Reid of the San Francisco 49ers was particularly outspoken.
Jenkins is still working with the player-led coalition to get the $100 million secured from the NFL. But right now, he’s focused on stopping the Patriots.
Do you think Jenkins is doing the right thing? Will you be rooting for or against him come Sunday?