Like most Eagles fans, I was disappointed when Malcolm Jenkins left the Birds after the 2019 season.
The former safety was the heart and soul of the defense for six seasons, earning three Pro Bowl nods and helping the Eagles win their first Super Bowl title.
Jenkins, who never missed a game wearing midnight green and white, was an accomplished leader on the court.
It was also a shame to hear what could have caused Jenkins to leave the team. Beyond the contract differences, reports have surfaced that Jenkins may have been fired in order to hand over the dressing room to Carson Wentz – a player whose leadership qualities were constantly in question until he was traded after the 2020 season.
But perhaps what disappointed me the most was that Jenkins was more than a football player during his time in Philadelphia.
Jenkins was a leader in the community through his advocacy work and charitable contributions. He led by example as a community activist and took pride in the responsibility of being a role model for others.
The New Jersey native was at the forefront of addressing social justice issues and repairing relationships between police officers and the city’s black communities. He sat down with black residents to find out which criminal justice and policing reforms were most needed. He accompanied officers to better understand what the daily life of a Philadelphia cop was like. And he was a strong advocate for parole reform, including when he called for rapper and fellow activist Meek Mill to be released from prison.
When Jenkins left Philly, he indicated that he planned to make the city his permanent home once his football career was over. Now that day has come, as Jenkins announced Wednesday that he is retiring from the NFL after 13 seasons with the Eagles and Saints. And he reinforced his love for Philly in the following tweet.
A reunion between Jenkins and Philly makes too much sense. As the city implements additional policing reforms, grapples with rising gun violence and record homicides, and seeks to overcome educational challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the voice of Jenkins would be welcome and beneficial for the dialogue.
What I love most about Jenkins is that he doesn’t just constantly talk or post on social media about his activism. He follows the march and actually gets to work creating real change for underserved communities. Jenkins literally walked two years ago when he joined Black Lives Matter protests in Philadelphia following the murder of George Floyd.
Jenkins helped start the Players Coalition, an independent advocacy group that supports charities and organizations in criminal justice, education, and law enforcement.
Jenkins has never been afraid to speak out on issues of race, whether it’s criticizing the culture of the Philadelphia Police Department or chastising former teammate Drew Brees for his criticism of the protests. national anthem in the NFL.
Additionally, the Malcolm Jenkins Foundation has aided Philadelphia students by providing vocational training programs and college scholarship funds for high school students. Jenkins’ passion for education led him to be the keynote speaker at the Philadelphia School District’s 2020 virtual graduation ceremony.
Jenkins’ community activism earned him several nominations for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year honor during his tenure in Philadelphia.
Jenkins, 34, would join an impressive list of former Eagles who set up their post-playing careers in Philly with the goal of playing an active role in the community. Brian Dawkins and Connor Barwin are among those who have dedicated much of their time to improving the lives of others in the city.
Jenkins had an incredible six-year run with the Eagles, but his impact off the court may be greater than anything he’s accomplished on the court.
The best is yet to come for Jenkins, and it would only be fitting for him to continue his advocacy work by returning to Philadelphia.