Sports Illustrated on Sunday cited two players who say they believe the league doesn’t want controversial ex-quarterback Colin Kaepernick present at a meeting on social justice reform that was scheduled for tomorrow but has since been canceled. Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins spoke out Sunday against a Slate.com story that pegged him as the person keeping Kaepernick from the meeting. Along with 49ers safety Eric Reid, Jenkins had a lot to say about what he believes the league’s goals are.
Asked if the goal is to ultimately get the player who started these protests last year into a meeting with team owners and the commissioner, Jenkins told me: “Yeah, I mean, that’s never been off the agenda.”
Jenkins and another key figure in the coalition, 49ers safety Eric Reid, maintained a unified front on Sunday, though their comments reflected just how complex the situation has become. Jenkins feels that the players are more organized than ever before, texting on off days, working in the community and staying on message. Reid simply wants that progress to include Kaepernick.
“I think there’s some frustration on Colin’s end because he wasn’t invited to the meeting,” Reid told me. “I think it’s just a lack of communication, and I think that there’s people in the NFL who don’t want him there. I don’t think there are any players who don’t want him there—I think it’s just the NFL that doesn’t want him there.”
Kaepernick, who first spoke publicly about sitting for the national anthem in August 2016, has been silent since his exit from the NFL in March.
“He started this protest, so all of us are passionate about what we’re doing but Colin has to have a voice in this,” said Reid, who knelt during the anthem on Sunday, as he has done since last season. “I don’t think there’s anybody who doesn’t want him to be there.”
In front of assembled reporters Sunday, Reid didn’t flinch at a question about potential discord among the players. He pointed a finger back at the NFL and sounded more confident than ever that Kaepernick would eventually be heard.
“I think, to keep it frank, the NFL wants the protests to end. It’s bad for their business. But I think it’s ridiculous that they don’t want Colin being there, being as he’s the first one to start protesting, so if we have to force him into that room that’s what we’ll do. But it has to be under the right circumstances,” Reid said. “We have to set a meeting, and the right people have to be here. I don’t think he’s going to fly to Philadelphia if no one is going to be at the meeting.”
— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 29, 2017
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