Two former allies who were key players in the NFL national anthem protests which dominated the league’s attention in the 2017 season almost came to blows just before today’s game.
Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid had to be separated during the coin toss after their pre-game jawing escalated. Their dispute centered on the NFL Players Coalition which is an ad-hoc organization that was in talks with the NFL to end the national anthem protests if the league donated $90 million to causes which are related to social inequality. In May, NFL.com announced that the partnership was finalized, but it is not clear whether the money has started flowing.
Reid who is one of the first players to join former teammate Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling protests during the anthem, called the coalition as an NFL-funded subversion group. He was out of football and sued the NFL for collusion until very recently signing with the Panthers. He felt that accepting the money would represent a sell-out of player values. He reportedly left the coalition because its founder Jenkins excluded Kaepernick from the meetings and was very instrumental in asking players if they would stop protesting the anthem in case the NFL made a charitable donation.
As per Black Sports Online, Reid said that Malcolm texted me this morning asking if he would be comfortable ending the demonstrations if the NFL made a donation. At that point, that was the last straw for him. Malcolm had a conversation with the NFL and Reid agreed that multiple people would be part of the conversations with the league and it just wouldn’t be Malcolm alone. As per Reid, Malcolm did not stand by his word on that and at no point did they ever communicate an agreement with the NFL for putting an end the protest.
Reid also claimed that Jenkins doesn’t protest during the national anthem despite the fact that Jenkins has frequently raised a fist during the song.
He said that they communicated these concerns to him several times and have had many phone calls about it. He added that their concerns have not been reflected with how the organization is being run, so he felt like he needed to make a departure from it.