The NFL has agreed to donate $89 million over seven years to social reform projects, including criminal justice reform, law enforcement reform and education reform, according to ESPN.
The deal was announced to the media by Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, who also serves as co-founder of The Players Coalition, a group of active NFL players who have joined together to protest for civil and social reform. Jenkins described the NFL’s pledge as a “platform and a campaign similar to what they’ve done with breast cancer awareness, My Cause, My Cleats, Salute to Service, but hopefully in an even bigger manner.”
Jenkins told reporters he will no longer protest during the National Anthem now that the NFL has agreed to its pledge.
“All of this really is in good faith,” Jenkins said, according to ESPN, “and I think if the league continues to come through or deliver on their word, then I see no need to go back to what I was doing.”
But others would argue otherwise, calling this move by the league nothing more than a cheap negotiating tactic to get players to sell out on what they’ve been protesting for. Nearly 40 players among the Coalition disapprove of the deal, according to The Chicago Tribune.
San Francisco safety Eric Reid recently told the media he and a few colleagues broke away from the Coalition because they felt Jenkins was negotiating bad deals on behalf of players without the group’s full approval.
“(We’re not) satisfied with the structure of the Coalition or the communication that Malcolm has been having with the NFL on his own, speaking on behalf of protesting players,” Reid said, according to SB Nation. Reid also released a memo to the media via Twitter, explaining his reason for leaving the coalition.
“With much thought and consideration, I’ve decided to officially withdraw from The Players Coalition founded by Malcom Jenkins and Anquan Boldin. The Players Coalition was supposed to be formed as a group that represents NFL athletes who have been silently protesting social injustices and racism. However, Malcom and Anquan can no longer speak on our behalf as we don’t believe the coalition’s beliefs are in our best interest as a whole.
“We will continue to have dialogue with the league to find equitable solutions but without Malcom and Anquan as our representatives.”
Reid told reporters he was asked by Jenkins if he would end his protesting if the NFL made its pledge, something he was very uncomfortable with. Reid was also concerned with where the NFL’s money would come from.
“In the discussion that we had, Malcolm conveyed to us—based on discussions that he had with the NFL—that the money would come from funds that are already allocated to breast cancer awareness and Salute to Service,” Reid said, according to Slate. “So it would really be no skin off the owners’ backs: They would just move the money from those programs to this one.”
Reid also said one of his motives for leaving stems from Jenkins attempting to keep Colin Kaepernick apart from the Coalition, although Jenkins denied that, claiming that Kaepernick has preferred to remain in an informal role with the group.
The NFL later announced its pledge to social reform comes with no expectation of a quid pro- quo, and the league also claimed no money would be pulled from older programs to fund the new programs. But its hard to ignore concerns from people who were close to the situation like Reid. He apparently believes the NFL may be trying to buy protesters off on a deal that will only cost them roughly $13 million per year for seven years. Hush money in its purest form. And no matter how much the NFL may deny it, it looks more and more like Reid is right.