NFL Agrees to Fund Social-Justice Reform; Reid Takes on Jenkins
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — To the casual NFL fan Colin Kaepernick has been the face of NFL players fighting for social-justice reform.
To those well-versed on the topic, however, Eagles' safety Malcolm Jenkins has been the substantive leader of a movement which has been negotiating with the NFL and brokered an agreement in which the league has agreed to partner with the players in contributing nearly $100 million to causes regarded as fundamentally important to African-American communities.
From the NFL's standpoint, the unprecedented commitment is designed to end the controversial movement that Kaepernick started when he refused to stand for the national anthem last season, something that has affected the brand among a certain constituency.
This is hardly over, however, because some players are displeased with the agreement and have already begun to splinter off, including Miami Dolphins safety Michael Thomas and 49ers safety Eric Reid, who both took to Twitter Wednesday to confirm are withdrawing from the coalition.
"The Players Coalition was supposed to be formed as a group that represents NFL Athletes who have been silently protesting social injustices and racism," both wrote. "However, Malcolm [Jenkins] and Anquan [Boldin] can no longer speak on our behalf as we don't believe the coalition's beliefs are in our best interests as a whole."
Reid, a close friend and supporter of Kaepernick, is concerned with the transparency of the process and not having a voice in the ultimate outcome.
"Myself and other protesting players are departing from the Players Coalition because we aren't satisfied with the structure of the Players Coalition and the communication that's been happening between Malcolm and the NFL," Reid told ESPN when reached by phone. "Myself and the aforementioned protesting players have voiced these concerns numerous times to Malcolm, concerning the structure of the organization and how we want to be involved more with the NFL in those communications. It has not transpired."
Failure of players to stop protesting could stop the agreement from proceeding and some serious accusations have been leveled by Reid at both Jenkins and Boldin.
"Malcolm continues to have conversations on his own with the NFL, and the Players Coalition is his organization," Reid said. "When we agreed to be a part of the Players Coalition, we were under the impression that it would be our organization. We were under the impression that we would all have equal say in that organization.
"But we've come to find out that it's actually Malcolm and Anquan's organization. Nobody else really has a stake in the organization. Malcolm actually wants us to -- he calls it invest; I call it donate -- to the company to pay salaries for his staff. But again, we would have no equity in the organization."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen