PHILADELPHIA (CBS/CNN) — Malcolm Jenkins may no longer play for the Eagles, but the 32-year-old three-time Pro Bowl safety remains an active figure in the Philadelphia community. This weekend, Jenkins joined thousands of Philadelphians marching for justice for George Floyd and against police brutality.
Jenkins offered an emotional and spirited retort for his teammate, Drew Brees, after the popular New Orleans Saints quarterback said Wednesday that he will “never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country.”
Brees’ response came in an interview with Yahoo Finance, when asked his opinion about players kneeling to protest police brutality once the NFL season begins this fall.
Highlight: @readdanwrite asks @drewbrees what the star NFL quarterback thinks about "players kneeling again when the NFL season starts."@drewbrees: “I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country.”
Full exchange: pic.twitter.com/MpCkFyOMed
— Yahoo Finance (@YahooFinance) June 3, 2020
Brees said respecting the anthem is not just about showing respect to the military, but also to anyone who sacrificed for this country, including those in the civil rights movement.
“And is everything right with our country right now? No, it’s not,” Brees said in the interview. “We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together, we can all do better, and that we are all part of the solution.”
Jenkins posted a 4 minute, 20-second video on his social media accounts criticizing Brees.
I recorded a few videos when thinking of how to respond to Drew Brees, I don’t take any of it back-I meant what I said-I removed the 1st video because I knew it be more about the headlines. I want people to understand how those of us struggling with what’s going on feel pic.twitter.com/T054qt0YEz
— Malcolm Jenkins (@MalcolmJenkins) June 3, 2020
“Drew Brees, if you don’t understand how hurtful, how insensitive your comments are, you are part of the problem,” Jenkins said. “To think that because your grandfathers served in this country and that you have a great respect for the flag that everyone else should have the same ideals and thoughts that you do is ridiculous — and it shows that you don’t know history, because when our grandfathers fought for this country and served, when they came back, they didn’t come back to a hero’s welcome. They came back and got attacked for wearing their uniforms. They came back to racism, to complete violence.”
“Here we are in 2020, with the whole country on fire, everybody witnessing a black man dying, being murdered at the hands of the police, just in cold blood, for everybody to see, the whole country’s on fire, and the first thing you do is criticized one’s peaceful protest? That was years ago when we were trying to signal a sign for help, to signal for our allies, our white brothers and sisters, the people we considered to be friends to get involved, it was ignored.
“And here we are now with the world on fire and you still continue to first criticize how we peacefully protested because it doesn’t fit with what you do and your beliefs without ever acknowledging the fact that a man was murdered by the hands of the police in front of us. And that has been continuing for centuries.
“And the same brothers that you break the huddle down with before every single game, the same guys you bleed with and battle with every single day, go home to communities that have been decimated… Drew, unfortunately, you’re somebody that doesn’t understand that privilege. You don’t understand the potential that you have to actually be an advocate for the people that you call brothers, you don’t understand the history and why people like me, people of my skin color, whose grandfathers fought for this country, who served and I still protested not against the national anthem, but what was happening in America and what our fabric of our country stands for.
“If you don’t understand that other people experience something totally different than you, then when you talk about the brotherhood and all this other [expletive], it’s just lip service or it’s only on the field. Because when we step off this field, when I take my helmet and I’m a black man walking around America, and I’m telling you that I’m dealing with these things, I’m telling you that my communities are dealing with these things, and your response to me is don’t talk about that here, this is not the place. Drew, where is the place, Drew?
“I’m disappointed. I’m hurt. Because while the world tells you that you’re not worthy, that your life doesn’t matter, the last place you want to hear it from are the guys you go to war with and you consider to be allies and to be your friends. Even though we’re teammates, I can’t let this slide.”
View this post on Instagram
As I was trying to muster up the energy and find the words to address Drew Brees’s comments I recorded this video. Before I could post it, Drew reached out to me to discuss his point of view. All in all, I’m still posting this video because it’s important for anyone who wants to consider themself an ally to know how these words and actions affect those who you want to help. Drew’s words during his interview were extremely painful to hear and I hope he rectifies them with real action.
Shortly after the Brees interview was posted, NBA superstar LeBron James called out the quarterback.
“You literally still don’t understand why Kap was kneeling on one knee??” James said in a tweet, referencing Colin Kaepernick. “Has absolute nothing to do with the disrespect of (the flag of United States) and our soldiers.”
WOW MAN!! 🤦🏾♂️. Is it still surprising at this point. Sure isn’t! You literally still don’t understand why Kap was kneeling on one knee?? Has absolute nothing to do with the disrespect of 🇺🇸 and our soldiers(men and women) who keep our land free. My father-in-law was one of those https://t.co/pvUWPmh4s8
— LeBron James (@KingJames) June 3, 2020
James went on to discuss his own father-in-law who was in the Army, saying that he never found Kaepernick — who famously knelt during the national anthem to protest police brutality — disrespectful, “because he and I both know what’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong!”
Michael Thomas, a wide receiver on the Saints, didn’t call out Brees specifically — but he did retweet a comment from a journalist, reading “How can anyone watch George Floyd get murdered and their first response when asked about it is ResPEcC tHe fLAg.” Thomas added a puking emoji.
— Michael Thomas (@Cantguardmike) June 3, 2020
Later, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers spoke up — though he didn’t reference Brees or his comments specifically.
“A few years ago we were criticized for locking arms in solidarity before the game,” Rodgers said in an Instagram post. “It has NEVER been about an anthem or a flag. Not then. Not now. Listen with an open heart, let’s educate ourselves, and then turn word and thought into action.”
View this post on Instagram
A few years ago we were criticized for locking arms in solidarity before the game. It has NEVER been about an anthem or a flag. Not then. Not now. Listen with an open heart, let’s educate ourselves, and then turn word and thought into action. #wakeupamerica #itstimeforchange #loveoverfear❤️ #solidarity #libertyandjusticeforall #all
New Eagles cornerback Darius Slay also voiced his disappointment with Brees.
Damn drew hurt me with that one🤦🏾♂️!!
— Darius Slay (@bigplay24slay) June 3, 2020
Black players make up about 70% of the NFL. In 2018, the NFL passed a policy to fine players for kneeling during the anthem, which was done to protest police brutality and racial injustice in the US. The punishment associated with the policy was later nixed, though the policy itself still remained.
Meanwhile, Jenkins will be the keynote speaker for the School District of Philadelphia’s virtual graduation on June 9.
(©Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company contributed to this report.)