Players all across the league used their platform to protest against racial injustice, police brutality, and even President Donald Trump, who called on NFL owners to “Get that son of a b**** off the field right now” after players chose to kneel during the national anthem as part of their protest against inequality.
The Super Bowl-bound Eagles’ standout defensive end Chris Long and cornerback Malcolm Jenkins (who is also a captain on the team) are two players at the forefront of the fight for social equality.
Long has been vocal about his position and standing with players who want to see social, racial, and educational changes in the United States. The defensive lineman recently launched the Pledge 10 for Tomorrow campaign, which focuses on creating equal educational opportunities through donations for inner-city and underprivileged schools. The campaign raised more than $1.3 million.
This season, Long has also donated every game check, which is approximately $1 million, to scholarships to help students. He told the AP, “I think we can all agree that equity in education can help effect change that we all want to see in this country.” The Eagles Pro-Bowler Jenkins is spearheading his social activism a little differently. He has taken lead as the head of the NFL Players Coalition, a group of more than 50 players who use their status and platform to influence change in African American communities.
Jenkins coordinated meetings and conferences with players and the NFL all season long. Because of his vigor and contribution to increase social justice awareness, he partnered with NFL owners to start a $89 million project that will feature digital content, brand spots, and letters from players and owners describing why social justice is important.
Like his teammate Long, Jenkins also understands that supporting youth goes a long way in fighting for change. That’s why he started the Malcolm Jenkins Foundation. His foundation’s mission is “to effectuate positive change in the lives of youth, particularly those in underserved communities.” This foundation provides the necessary tools, opportunities, and experiences for kids to be effective contributing members in their communities.
Looking ahead to the Super Bowl, the Eagles will give it all they’ve got to try to beat the defending champions, but it’s good to see that players like Long and Jenkins understand that their mission is bigger than the game.
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Darnell Pearson is a grad student at Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He’s been a contributor to Make It Better since September 2016. In his free time he enjoys working out, watching movies and watching sports. Darnell is also a senior manager and mentor at Kidz Express, a nonprofit youth program on the west side of Chicago.