Malcolm Jenkins is an NFL safety with the Philadelphia Eagles whose skills have garnered him a great deal of respect over the years. He has also received a ton of respect away from the game due to his stance on protesting police brutality and the ongoing oppression of people of color in America.
Yet, he has likely received equal amounts of disdain as well. Such is the fate of many who question the status quo.
According to a 10-page memo obtained by Yahoo Sports, a group of current and former NFL players who have dedicated themselves for racial equality and reform in the criminal justice system petitioned commissioner Roger Goodell and executive vice president Troy Vincent to support their cause via an activism awareness month proposed back in August.
The unprecedented request asks for wide-ranging involvement by the NFL in this particular movement.
This is the memo written by #NFL players asking commish Roger Goodell for league support in their activism https://t.co/73HG4j3zVN
Most fans of professional sports in America can attest to the philanthropic and charitable undertakings of the NFL, NBA and MLB toward creating a more just world. Hunger, poverty, breast cancer, congenital childhood ailments you name the cause and theyve dedicated time to it.
Well, that is, everything except police brutality or racial equality. In a league that is 68 percent black, you would think something like this is long overdue.
Penned by Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, Eagles teammates Malcolm Jenkins and Torrey Smith and former Arizona Cardinals wideout Anquan Boldin, the memo calls for November to be recognized as Unity Month by the National Football League.
A league spokesperson declined comment on the issue. The players who made the overture also declined to comment, citing an agreement to keep discussions with Goodell on the issue private.
Each current player has engaged in protests of the national anthem on television. Sources say the letter came after several players spoke with Goodell regarding his desire to move the protests into a more progressive diction.
To be clear, we are asking for your support, a portion of the memo reads. We appreciate your acknowledgement on the call regarding the clear distinction between support and permission. For us, support means: bear all or part of the weight of; hold up; give assistance to, especially financially; enable to function or act. We need support, collaboration and partnerships to achieve our goal of strengthening the community. There are a variety of ways for you to get involved. Similar to the model we have in place for players to get involved, there are three tiers of engagement based on your comfort level. To start, we appreciate your agreement on making this an immediate priority. In your words, from Protest to Progress, we need action.
The three-part letter contained an overview of current player activism, a request for a league-wide initiative dedicating November to activism awareness, as well as a potential timeline for the execution of a league wide NFL support to start in August 2018 and punctuated by a September 9 announcement.
It also includes specific concerns to be addressed, such as police accountability, transparency, bail reform, the criminalization of poverty and other key talking points.
The raised fist represent unity or solidarity with oppressed peoples.
Additionally, Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, who recently said Colin Kaepernicks disrespect of the American flag killed his chances of becoming an Eagle, went on a listen and learn tour in Philly organized by Jenkins, Boldin, Smith, Chris Long and Rodney McLeod on September 12.
Goodell, who has been coy, evasive and seemingly ignorant on the issue throughout Kaps blackballing, recently showed unflinching support for Michael Bennett after he was detained by the Las Vegas Police Department. Bennett accused them of racial profiling.
Michael Bennett represents the best of the NFL a leader on his team and in his community, Goodell said in a statement supporting Bennett after the incident came to light. Our foremost concern is the welfare of Michael and his family. While we understand the Las Vegas police department will address this later this evening, the issues Michael has been raising deserve serious attention from all of our leaders in every community. We will support Michael and all NFL players in promoting mutual respect between law enforcement and the communities they loyally serve and fair and equal treatment under the law.
Michael Bennett receives big statement of support from commissioner Roger Goodell https://t.co/FabT0C5P6e
Do these most recent revelations reveal an NFL that is slowly coming around to the understanding what these protests are all about?