Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins sent a strong message to NFL owners Thursday, calling them “cowards” for their apparent reluctance to sign free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick for fear of public backlash.
“This is just some other teams being, quite honestly, cowards, to say that they’re afraid of backlash to sign someone to make their team better, when fans’ input has never been in the equation when it comes to signing people in the past,” Jenkins told delawareonline.com. “It’s certain owners’ way of making an example out of [Kaepernick] to discourage anybody else from doing what he did.”
Kaepernick, who protested police brutality by sitting and later kneeling during the national anthem last season while playing for the San Francisco 49ers, opted out of his deal and has yet to find a new team. Kaepernick’s protest drew many supporters and detractors. Jenkins was a supporter, so much so, he raised his fist above his head during the national anthem for some of the Eagles’ games.
Jenkins’ comments come the same week ESPN reported Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh want to sign Kaepernick, but owner Steve Bisciotti has resisted the idea. In a press conference, Bisciotti said the team was reaching out to fans, sponsors, and community members about the possibility of adding Kaepernick.
But, with the quarterback out of a job, Jenkins finds it hard to believe his ability on the field is the reason why.
“Four months ago, there was a debate as to whether [Kaepernick] is talented enough or whatever,” Jenkins said. “I think at this point in time, when you look at the quarterbacks who have jobs around the league, and the amount of owners and GMs who have only spoken of what fans would think about his stance. I think it’s safe to throw out that talent argument, and basically focus on the fact that he doesn’t have a job solely because he didn’t stand for the anthem last year, even though he already expressed that he planned on standing this year.”
“That message, to me, is loud and clear from owners as to where their priorities stand and how they go about picking and choosing who they want on their teams. It’s definitely unfortunate, but it’s shining a light on just how the NFL operates and what we deem is acceptable. It really has nothing to do with what’s right or wrong, but what affects dollars. That’s business as usual, but I think it’s an unfortunate precedent to set.”