Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins used silence and signs to deliver a strong message on what the protests by NFL players are really all about.
The media had hoped to get him to comment on the controversy, given that Trump initially cited players kneeling in protest during the National Anthem as the reason for the cancellation. However, no Eagle had taken a knee during the 2017 regular season.
The White House later said the planned Tuesday gathering was short-circuited because the team engaged in a “political stunt” by promising dozens of players would attend and then saying only a handful would.
Jenkins was prepared to talk to reporters all right ― without saying a word. Relying on signs that resembled cue cards, the player-activist pointed out the high percentage of African Americans shot by police or incarcerated, and hailed the patriotism of fellow NFL players who have demonstrated against racial injustice.
Jenkins, who raised a fist during the anthem as his own form of protest last season and already had addressed Trump’s invitation reversal in a letter posted to Twitter, later told ESPN that he used the posters to redirect the conversation.
“I’m tired of the narrative being about the anthem, about the White House or whatever,” he said. “The issues are the issues. ... And these things are systemic; there are ways that we can change them.”