You’d have to think Sean Payton, Drew Brees and most Saints fans disagree with Malcolm Jenkins’ contention that football is nonessential.
If you remotely understand the role of football in American society, if you feign concern over the plight of black men, you should disagree with Jenkins, too. Stick with me.
Yes, football is nonessential for Malcolm Jenkins. He’s 32. He’s won a Super Bowl in New Orleans and Philadelphia already. And the golden parachute contract he finagled from the Saints is his last NFL payday. New Orleans is on the hook for a $9 million signing bonus and $1 million in salary this year, raising Jenkins’ career earnings to $70 million.
“We have to understand that football is a nonessential business,” Jenkins told a CNN audience Thursday. “And so we don’t need to do it. The risk has to be really eliminated before we — before I — would feel comfortable with going back.”
When the Eagles declined to pick up an option on Jenkins, the Saints signed the safety to a four-year $32 million contract in mid-March, returning him to the organization and city that drafted him in 2009.
So far, the return on New Orleans’ reinvestment has resulted in Jenkins using Twitter to publicly smear Brees’ character for saying he disagreed with players taking a knee during the national anthem and Jenkins inking a commentator deal with a political news network, CNN.
The 2020 season was projected to be Brees’ 20th and final NFL campaign, a last chance for Brees and Payton to win a second Super Bowl together and carve out a more substantial legacy.
So I’m sure Payton and Brees were displeased yesterday watching Jenkins categorize the upcoming NFL season as a low priority in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Jenkins reminds me of the 30-year, union factory employee who spends his final years working the assembly line on in-plant retirement. They nap in the bathroom. Their friends clock them in after lunch. And sick days are usually spent at a bingo parlor, massage parlor or bowling alley.
In the case of an uber-rich NFL player, on-field retirement consists of photo shoots for their personal website, television interviews about the latest controversial police shooting and recording videos blasting white teammates for not venerating Colin Kaepernick as the modern-day Muhammad Ali.
Football is Jenkins’ side hustle, something he does for the massive paycheck and the brand-building opportunities.
This NFL season is going to be quite interesting. Many players have immersed themselves in the social-media narrative that the NFL is a plantation and that every righteous field negro must break the chains of their football oppressor.
The billionaires who built and support a league that pays a black three-time Pro Bowler $70 million over 12 years are the sworn enemies of black people because they refuse to publicly disavow Donald Trump and pledge allegiance to the anti-religious, Marxist-front organization White Perpetrators Matter, aka, Black Lives Matter.
The bigoted owners of this nonessential business also finance Jenkins’ Players Coalition Foundation, the association of NFL players who build their off-field brands masquerading as experts on the criminal justice system.
I need Jenkins to define “nonessential business.” Where would he be without football? Would he have a public brand of any kind without football? Would he have earned $70 million by age 32 without football?
If you’re wondering why I sound angry, it’s because too many of these guys don’t get it. They’re clueless.
For black men and boys football is essential business. It provides a structure to develop discipline, an environment to connect with male role models, an activity to channel aggressive energy, a pathway out of the ghetto to a college campus and, for the extremely blessed, a revenue-generator that allows them to positively change the lives of the people they love.
I understand concern over COVID-19. But that concern doesn’t render the industry that has created more black male millionaires than any other American industry nonessential.
Malcolm Jenkins thinks he’s the brains who can fix the criminal justice system. He doesn’t even understand the importance of his own industry. Does he think football is nonessential for Joe Burrow, Chase Young, Jeff Okaduh, Tua Tagovailoa and the other rookies just starting their careers?
How about the kid who was like me in 1985, living in a 400-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment with his dad in the ’hood? Football was my only way to college. Despite never getting a whiff of the NFL, getting a football scholarship to Ball State University changed my life and eventually changed the lives of my mom and dad.
I’m not saying we have to play football this season. But I’m disappointed that Malcolm Jenkins, someone who has greatly benefitted from the game, would go on an agenda-driven, football-hating TV network and call the game nonessential.
Jenkins needs to get off social media and rejoin the real world.