MALCOLM JENKINS knew it wasn’t going to be all praise and congratulations, when he decided to become one of the NFL’s more prominent voices in the national anthem protest movement started by 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
“There’s been some negativity,” Jenkins said Friday, though so far he has not endured the death threats Kaepernick is alleged to have received, or the loss of commercial endorsements suffered by Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall.
Eagles safety Jenkins, 28, plans to continue his protest Sunday when his team faces the visiting Steelers. Regardless of heated, visceral reaction from some fans, he said he feels the issue of racial inequality is too important for him to be silent.
In the wake of stories written in the Daily News about Jenkins and the protests, one person on Twitter said they wished Jenkins “would be paralyzed” in the Chicago game. Others have called the players involved “illiterates” and “animals.”
Jenkins was asked Friday about a question-and-answer format interview he did with Sports Illustrated’s MMQB site, in which he told of this year’s Eagles training camp NFL security meeting addressing the subject of “surviving the encounter” with police.
“In our NFL security meetings that we do every year, the head of security for our team speaks to us about numerous topics like gun safety, domestic violence, how to keep our house secure, personal security, everything,” Jenkins told MMQB. “And in the last two years, they have talked about police encounters, but this year stood out to me specifically because he started by saying, ‘I am not here to get into a conversation about what is right and what is wrong and what your rights are as a citizen. I am here to simply coach you up on how to survive the encounter.’ There was a little bit of rumbling and he said, ‘Look I get it, there are a lot of things going on, a lot of things that aren’t right, but we are here so that you survive the encounter.’
“In that moment you knew that he was not talking to Carson Wentz. He said, look if you get pulled over, most of you probably have tinted windows, so roll all your windows down, keep your hands on the steering wheel. If the officer asks you to pull out your license and registration, don’t just reach for it, announce and say, ‘Hey, officer, I am reaching for my license.’ He said, ‘I know all of this is not right and this isn’t in line with the rights you have as a citizen, but we need you to survive this encounter and you can report the officer later after that.’ The fact that we even have to have this conversation tells you that there is something wrong.”
Friday, Jenkins said: “This year is the first year I’ve heard them put it like that, literally coach you up on how to survive the encounter.” His point is a simple one: It’s crazy that there is a need to do this, and you don’t have to be “anti-police” to think so.
“Whether people like it or not, it is to the point now where silence becomes a nod of approval for the way things are,” Jenkins told MMQB. “And the way things are is bad.”
In the wake of the decision of Jenkins and three teammates to hold their right fists aloft during the anthem Monday night in Chicago, a student at Belmont University in Tennessee posted a photo of the protest on Snapchat. The student referred to them with as “piece of s— n-g-s” and said they needed “ a bullet in their head.”
The Christian school announced Tuesday afternoon that the freshman was no longer a student there.
“I feel bad for the kid,” Jenkins said. “For one thing, I don’t take social media personally. Never have I had anybody face-to-face have the boldness to speak” the way people do on social media.
“I’m sure that kid would never say anything like that to somebody’s face. In all actuality, that’s probably not how he feels. If he does, then he wouldn’t act it out in any other way.”
It’s unclear whether more teammates will join Jenkins on Sunday. At least one said Friday he was considering it. Jenkins said he hasn’t gotten any negative feedback from teammates.
Forming a line
We’ve been writing and talking about the Lane Johnson 10-game suspension for six weeks now; it’s almost faded into the background of the season. But it really is going to happen, assuming Johnson isn’t able to achieve something miraculous in his Oct. 4 appeal hearing.
Sunday’s game against the Steelers could be the last action for the Eagles’ right tackle — their best offensive lineman so far this season — until Dec. 18, at Baltimore.
Eagles coach Doug Pederson said Friday that when Johnson’s suspension finally starts, Allen Barbre will move from left guard to right tackle, and Stefen Wisniewski will take over at left guard. Rookie Isaac Seumalo was coaches’ first choice at left guard, but Seumalo has been hindered by a pec strain suffered in training camp. Pederson said Seumalo had lost too much ground to compete to start right away, though Pederson said he does expect Seumalo back at practice when the team reconvenes from the bye.
Johnson left the locker room quickly Friday as reporters were entering. He has not spoken since the suspension became official. Playing 10 games without him could definitely affect the season, and the health and safety of rookie quarterback Carson Wentz.
“He’s been playing really well. He’s a solid right tackle. It’s been good to have that five (offensive line group) together the whole time,” Pederson said.
When Johnson was suspended for four games in 2014, he was not allowed around the practice facility. Then-Eagles guard Todd Herremans Skyped regularly with Johnson to keep him informed of what the team was doing. Center Jason Kelce said Friday that no plan has been made yet to do anything like that this time.
Wisniewski said he hasn’t heard anything, but “I’ve been working at left guard a lot. I think I’m ready for it.”
Wisniewski has been a center his last four years, but he was a guard at Penn State and his rookie year with the Raiders.
Doug Pederson confirmed that tight end Zach Ertz (displaced first rib) and corner Leodis McKelvin will miss this week’s game, but Pederson said he thinks both will be ready to go when the Eagles gather for practice following their bye week, in preparation for an Oct. 9 visit to Detroit ... The Eagles listed linebacker Mychal Kendricks as questionable for Sunday with a broken nose and a quad bruise, but Kendricks practiced Friday and is expected to play … You can tell the Eagles planned for Brent Celek to play fewer snaps in the offense this season by the way they’re using Celek more on special teams, though with Ertz’s injury, Celek’s currently carrying a hefty offensive load. Friday, Pederson praised his special teams work. Is it tough to go back to that demanding job, in your 10th season? “Not really,” Celek said. “I think special teams has been good for me, because it just makes you a better overall player. If I’m not playing as many snaps on offense, then I’ve got to play on special teams. Whatever this team needs me to do.”