By Anders Hagstrom
Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins was the only player to pledge to stop protesting during the national anthem after the NFL pledged to donate $89 million to African-American causes.
The NFL announced a seven-year donation plan last week following negotiations with The Players Coalition (PC), a five-player organization where Jenkins is a co-founder. Jenkins refrained for the first time all season from raising his fist in the air on Sunday during the pre-game national anthem, but he was the only PC member to do so, ABC News reported.
“I know a lot of people have kind of made a big deal about the money that the league has proposed, but I’m more concerned and more interested in the platform they’re proposing,” Jenkinstold reporters. “The reason I started raising my fist in the first place is to draw awareness to injustices in this country, disenfranchised people of color. I wanted to draw awareness.
He was reassured more by the NFL’s willingness to listen.
“And so I think what the league is proposing is a platform and a campaign similar to what they’ve done with breast cancer awareness, My Cause, My Cleats, Salute to Service, but hopefully in an even bigger manner,” Jenkins added.
The league will pay the $89 million over seven years, focusing on issues important to African-American communities. The deal distributes 25 percent of funds to the United Negro College Fund, 25 percent to Dream Corps, and 50 percent to Jenkins’ Player Coalition. The deal had no language requiring players to stop protesting, but the NFL did hope that might be the result.
At least 21 players protested across all the games on Sunday, compared to 23 the Sunday before. Part of the reason may be divisions within the Players Coalition itself, as two members of withdrew after the deal, accusing Jenkins and Anquan Boldin, the other co-founder, of betraying the organization’s mission.
“The Players Coalition was supposed to be formed as a group that represents NFL athletes who have been silently protesting social injustices and racism,” Eric Reid of the 49ers said on Twitter. “However, Malcolm and Anquan can no longer speak on our behalf as we don’t believe the coalition’s beliefs are in our best interest as a whole.”
Reid was the first NFL player to join Colin Kaepernick in protest during the national anthem in 2016.