Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins had a rather unique approach to his media session on Wednesday when he chose not to answer any questions, but instead held signs in front of reporters with messages of “you’re not listening” and numerous statistics about the criminal justice system he and other NFL players are looking to reform.
In an interview with Tim McManus of ESPN.com Wednesday night, Jenkins said the motivation for the display was his desire to focus on the issues they’re protesting for and not the divisive grandstanding the manner of their protests have generated.
“I’m tired of the narrative being about the anthem, about the White House or whatever,” Jenkins said after meeting with public defenders regarding bail reform. “The issues are the issues. And the reason that we’re doing any of this is, because we have these huge disparities in our criminal justice system; we have this issue of mass incarceration; we have issues of police brutality; our children and access to education and economic advancement is nonexistent in communities of color. And these things are systemic; there are ways that we can change them.”
Players have said many times over their efforts are focused on issues of police brutality and social injustices. That hasn’t stopped many – including the President of the United States – to claim that the players are anti-military, anti-America and unpatriotic because their various protests have occurred during the national anthem. The Eagles, specifically, didn’t have any players sit or kneel for the anthem during the regular season or playoffs last year.
Jenkins hoped his use of signs could focus the message on their efforts to improve society instead.
“And for me, I feel like this is the time to do that,” Jenkins said. “And so, that message can’t continue to be ignored. And that’s what I think has been happening up until this point. So we just have to continue to stay on topic and continue to push the issues — and not this narrative of who’s right and who’s wrong, but what are the reasons why players are even so passionate about this.”