Malcolm Jenkins isn’t sure the NFL should play this season

The New Orleans Saints star say the league needs to do more to ensure player safety

Malcolm Jenkins in Miami, 2019. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

New Orleans Saints star and two-time Super Bowl champion Malcolm Jenkins has been an outspoken activist for social change during his 11 years in the league. Now, he’s advocating again. The newly minted CNN correspondent said today that he believes the NFL should hit pause on a season this year.

In an interview on CNN on Thursday, Jenkins said that football is a “non-essential” activity and that he believes the league should provide players with more assurances before undertaking the 2020-2021 season.

READ MORE: Malcolm Jenkins says NFL needs to apologize to Kaepernick

“The NBA is a lot different than the NFL in that they can quarantine their players,” Jenkins said.

“They can actually quarantine all their players whereas we have over 2,000 players and even more coaches and staff. We can’t do that. So we’ll end up being kind of on this trust system,  honor system where we just have to hope guys are social distancing and things like that, and that puts all of us at risk.”

However, Jenkins clarified his statements in a social media video later on in the day. He stated he did want to play but that there was still much unknown about the virus. He cited the surges in new infections and wanted to see how effective the protocols of others that have quarantined works out.

“There’s so much that we don’t know at this point. But I know that the bar for the NFL is going to be high when it comes to creating a safe work environment and making it as safe as possible for guys to come back and we keep in mind that it’s not just about the athletes and their health or the coaches and staff, but our families, too,” he said.

READ MORE: NFL Star Malcolm Jenkins warns Black community not to depend on government for COVID-19 help

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot is one of the most prominent NFL players to test positive for the COVID-19 virus. He says that while he’s feeling OK, he has yet to be able to work out, according to the team’s official website.

Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys before the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on December 22, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Jenkins, winner of  Super Bowls with the Philadephia Eagles and the Saints, helped the league develop its Inspire Change initiative and was active in NFL anthem protests. He was one of the players who responded when longtime Saints quarterback Drew Brees said he would never accept players disrespecting the military if anthem protests continued when the season began. Jenkins said that he was disappointed but the two talked it out and Brees ultimately apologized.

The NFL is scheduled to open training camps on July 28 and the regular season is set to start on time on September 10. However, the league did cancel their annual Hall of Fame preseason game scheduled between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Dallas Cowboys on August 6, and all of their overseas games for the upcoming season.


Have you subscribed to theGrio’s new podcast “Dear Culture”? Download our newest episodes now!