MINNEAPOLIS – The Philadelphia Eagles' Malcolm Jenkins is one of the best safeties in the NFL on the football field, and one of the game’s most important players off it.
In 2009 he was the 14th pick in the NFL draft by the New Orleans Saints, and as a rookie became one of only seven current Eagles to play in a Super Bowl.
Jenkins joined the Eagles as a free agent in 2013, was selected for the Pro Bowl in 2015 and this season and the guy can flat out ball.
Speaking Thursday about what he means to the Eagles defense, Jenkins said, “I understand where we need to be in position or stop what’s coming, and they trust my preparation, they trust my voice so yeah.
“Myself and Nigel Bradham are really the guys that kind of get everybody lined up and often time we’ll do stuff just with me and him that nobody else is really aware of or has an understanding of but we understand the defense, understand every spot and we can put guys in position based on what we see guys ready to do.
“(Defensive coordinator Jim) Schwartz doesn’t ask us where we’re going to line up or who’s going to do what, he really trusts us with that.”
Jenkins prides himself on his versatility, saying, “I’m not a labels type of guy, so every time my coach tries to call me a safety I correct him and tell him I’m a hybrid.
“I mean this year I’ve played linebacker, MIKE and SAM, I’ve played the nickel, strong and free safety, the corner at times, wherever you need me, okay?
With all that, however, it is possibly off the field where Jenkins has made the biggest impact.
"The Malcolm Jenkins Foundation” is committed to youth development initiatives and programs which emphasize mentorship, character development, leadership, education, life skills, health and recreation, and he has also helped found the “Let’s Listen Together” Upper Darby, Pennsylvania initiative where he talks to Superintendent of Police Michael Chitwood to discuss social justice issues affecting police and community relations.
Yes, Jenkins is one of the NFL players who have protested during the national anthem this year, not by kneeling but by raising a fist during its playing.
And then he did more.
Jenkins founded the NFL Players Coalition this season, recruiting about 40 players from around the league and they joined the commissioner and NFL owners in a partnership that calls for the league to contribute $89 million over seven years to projects dealing with criminal justice reform, law enforcement/community relations and education.
With the announcement of that commitment, Jenkins stopped his Anthem protests.
Asked if he’s ever seen his fellow players coalesce around an issue like this he says, “No, not since I’ve been in the league.
“I’ve seen players come together over CBA issues or things around the league or money, but never quite like we have this year over our communities and I think hopefully that’s a good bar to set for athletes moving forward that are either in high school, college that are looking up to us you know hopefully we set a good example and inspire them to continue to fight for their communities no matter what space they’re in.”
Of those who’ve resented his and his fellow players protests, and some have been quite vocal, Jenkins says, “Yeah, I mean you can’t expect to go about change, especially change of this nature when you talk about racial equality and justice, you can’t expect to go about or engage in that without resistance and so you’re going to have some people who aren’t on board.”
If there is a better safety in the NFL right now, he is hard to find.
And it is impossible to find an NFL player who has protested during the national anthem that has proven more clearly or completely he meant no disrespect to his flag, his country or our military and that he is working every day to make our communities better and safer places for all of us.
Malcolm Jenkins is a very special young man.