Philadelphia Eagles: Jenkins, McLeod championing for a greater cause

(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

Philadelphia Eagles’ Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod have shared great football success. However, their greatest feat is what they’re doing off the field.

Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod wreak havoc on the football field. Together the dynamic pair of Philadelphia Eagles safeties make a living breaking up passes, thwarting drives, imposing fear, and laying the hammer on any would-be ball-carrier. Together they helped the city of Brotherly Love claim its first Lombardi Trophy and were rewarded with a celebratory parade featuring a million of their closest friends.

Yet, despite this and other achievements, their most impactful accomplishment remains what they’re doing away from the football field in support of a much greater cause.

Imagine applying for a position and believing you have everything it takes to do the job and do it well. You receive a call from the employer, and they schedule you for an interview. After thorough preparation, you feel confident going in and seem to really hit it off with the interviewer. Everything is going smoothly, and you feel great about your chances of receiving the position, and then…

More from Philadelphia Eagles

You don’t get it.

Despite your qualifications. Despite your skills. Despite your eagerness to learn and desire to work hard. So how could this be?

Because there’s a felony conviction on your record.


Prejudice takes on many forms, including a widespread belief that individuals with a criminal past are untrustworthy or not deserving of a second chance.

Either that or a more alarming cultural epidemic exists in which businesses and institutions place greater emphasis on preserving a perceived image rather than offering justifiable second chances through association with a felon.

What has become of society where image is more important than the content of qualified character? The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle, and thankfully Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, and the Players Coalition are taking a stand.

“The challenge is to get everyone to understand that it’s all connected and that all of it needs to happen simultaneously,” Malcolm Jenkins assessed when asked what the biggest challenge was helping ex-offenders find work.

For far too many people the above situation is an unfortunate reality of everyday life. Seldom publicized and frequently feared, this troublesome behavior of tolerated discrimination continues to plague thousands of former felons seeking reintegration each day.

The challenge can be exhausting as evidenced by the high recidivism rate.

The criminal justice system tends to emphasize punishment over rehabilitation. As a result, tax-payer money is often allocated towards supporting a rising number of inmate populations and the efforts in place to monitor individuals via parole and probation once released. Imagine, however, if tax-payer dollars were spent supporting rehabilitation services to improve the quality of life for a person following incarceration. As Malcolm Jenkins proclaimed, “The system is rigged against them.”

And change is necessary.

This past Friday, Jenkins, and McLeod lent their time helping individuals with a criminal history get back on their feet. Along with a host of community leaders and supporters, the coalition organized a community job fair where employers throughout the Philadelphia region were on hand ready to hire. At least 40 former felons walked away with jobs.

This effort is one of many that these football warriors support off the field.

Jenkins, the co-founder of the Players Coalition, joined by McLeod and other current and former NFL players (including Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long) comprise the group which focuses on improving the quality of life for others through the advocacy of social justice and racial equality.

Said safety Rodney McLeod, “People do deserve a second chance in life. Rehabilitation is real, and as long as they have the right mindset and the support system surrounding it, it’s possible.”

The Players Coalition has been championing for change since its inception in 2017. Social equality, criminal justice reform, and the promotion of hope through professional and educational advancement opportunities (such as Friday’s job fair) lie at the root of the group’s purpose.

In a nation once built on diversity and inclusion, there’s an awful lot of intolerance plaguing its people. Its people include those who may have made a mistake, and these players are using their platform as a means to draw attention to civil justice in an effort to shift policy and change lives.

One of the things that make sports so unique is its ability to blend cultural lines and unify a society for the good of a common cause. Teammates must work together to accomplish a goal regardless of differences of opinion, and those teams that do so consistently are the ones who ultimately win. We as fans are united with pride as we root our team to victory regardless of race, gender or creed.

It sometimes seems forgotten or overlooked that we, as a collective society, are also in competition for the good of a common cause: the betterment of humanity. There will be disagreements and challenges along the way, and it’s through a respectful search for answers where understanding is formed, and collective strength gained.

While Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, and Chris Long are celebrated for their on-field contributions, it’s what the trio and entire Players Coalition do off the field that leaves a greater mark.

All people are created equal and deserve to be treated as such. The efforts of the Players Coalition are going a long way towards breaking down barriers of intolerance with bridges of hope. And though some may have a more prominent role than others, we’re all contributing members of the same team.

dark. Next. How was the price too high for Tevin Coleman?

Wear your colors proud.