The Players Coalition organized by Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and retired wide receiver Anquan Boldin fractured this week as a deal was struck with the NFL for the league to provide $89 million over seven years to the social justice causes favored by players who have been protesting over the last two years.
49ers safety Eric Reid, Chargers tackle Russell Okung and Dolphins safety Michael Thomas left the group with Okung calling the deal a “farce” that doesn’t work to accomplish what the players were hoping to accomplish.
In an open letter released on Sunday, Jenkins relays the history of the group while writing that he does not believe this is an end to the players’ efforts and pushed back at suggestions that he and others have been bought off by the league.
“What the NFL has done is a good first step — it’s not going to solve the massive problems we have in our cities and states across this country, but it’s a start. And, more importantly, I’m glad we were able to get them to acknowledge their responsibility and role in trying to help solve these problems and injustices. They are making a major commitment, more than they have done
for any other charitable initiative, to provide us with the marketing platform to educate millions of fans about social justice, racial inequality and the work players are doing in criminal justice reform, police accountability/transparency and education/economic advancement. For myself and the Players Coalition, it was never about the money or having our voices bought. To hear people call me or anyone else a sell-out is insulting. It has always been, and will always be, about lifting the voices of the people and the work of those that fight for them.”
The deal makes no call for players to stand for the national anthem or otherwise give up their protests and Jenkins writes that he “wholeheartedly” supports those who continue on that front. Jenkins said he will not raise his fist on the sideline this Sunday and adds that he hopes the focus will move to “the tragedies we need to fix” rather than what players may do during the anthem.