To place Philadelphia Eagles Malcolm Jenkins in the proper historical context, just call him the Ralph Abernathy to Colin Kaepernick’s Martin Luther King Jr. Sure, Jenkins didn’t help the FBI in its attempts to discredit King’s voice by confirming King had extramarital affairs, which is what Abernathy did to King. But Jenkins caught the coattails of a movement only to become the appeasing black face that was willing to stand down as soon as the money was right.
On Sunday, newly acquired Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid—who risked his career by protesting next to his friend and brother in the struggle, Kaepernick, when both were with the San Francisco 49ers—was finally able to confront Jenkins, the Clarence Thomas of the Movement for Black Lives.
Here’s how Yahoo Sports breaks down the history surrounding the beef:
There’s no surgical way to break the beef down between the Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia Eagles safeties. It has been messy and accusatory, with sniping happening behind the scenes for more than a year, dating back to the NFL owners meetings in New York in October of 2017, when the league moved to alleviate controversy surrounding protests during the national anthem at games.
During that set of meetings, Jenkins and Reid came to a crossroads. One of them (Jenkins) would be embraced by the NFL as the liaison to move the protest “controversy” toward compromise. The other (Reid) was seen by league executives as an impediment to progress, largely because of one hardline stance: he wanted Colin Kaepernick’s alleged black-balling by the NFL to be a priority when it came to talks between players and owners.
When the dust settled with the league’s power brokers, Jenkins was chosen – while Reid and Kaepernick were frozen out. The NFL won the entire affair by dividing and conquering some players, leaving behind a trail of hard feelings.
It unfolded like this: Jenkins was tabbed as the go-to man when the league engaged in negotiations with the Players Coalition. The two sides agreed on a multimillion dollar platform that made the NFL partners with players in social justice efforts. Reid was muted by Jenkins for his Kaepernick lobbying. So Reid departed the group out of frustration. Kaepernick remained unsigned, and Reid languished for six months in free agency before being signed by the Panthers (under new ownership) – but only after he accused the NFL of blackballing him the same way it was allegedly blackballing Kaepernick.
Lost in all that drama was the NFL getting exactly what it wanted: the ability to promote ties with players on social reform while completely avoiding any kind of negotiation that involved Kaepernick’s job status.
Even that victory came with an unexpected twist. Specifically, the NFL instituting and then shelving a rule that banned protests during the national anthem. So while the NFL has its socially responsible ties to promote, it got them under conditions it initially refused for the 2018 season: A handful of players (including Reid) still protesting during the anthem.
When the two finally met on the field, it wasn’t pretty. They had a confrontation after the coin toss. The coin toss.
Reid believes—and rightfully so—the NFL was looking for a black face that would be willing to smooth over tensions surrounding the kneeling protest. For Reid and Kaepernick, the Movement for Black Lives is the never-ending quest for black justice. For the NFL, kneeling during the national anthem has always been a major PR problem. If the NFL could find a black face who was willing to stop protesting because of money—which was already allocated for breast cancer awareness and the armed services but could be moved over to help the Black Lives Matter agenda—then they would essentially end the protest and everyone would be happy.
This is exactly what Jenkins did. He co-opted Kaepernick and Reid’s movement only to sell it out in the end.
Reid and Kaepernick will never fuck with him.
Reid would call him a sellout and “neocolonialist” after the game. Do you know how fucked up you have to be in order for someone to call you a neocolonialist?
To the surprise of no one who has been paying attention, Kaepernick fully supported Reid’s decision to go at Jenkins.
Jenkins should’ve have known he was a pawn in a historical game of chess in which black men have been used on the front lines to end other black men’s movements. At this point, I’m just waiting for Jenkins to yell, “Get your hand out my pocket!”