Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins appeared on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 on Wednesday evening to talk about why NFL players are protesting during the national anthem.
Jenkins was among Eagles players who, in the wake of comments made by Donald Trump, called on fans to join the team in locking arms in a sign of unity in advocacy for equality and social justice.
Here’s what Jenkins had to say on CNN. If you don’t feel like watching the videos, read on for a transcript below.
Former NFL player Malcolm Jenkins: Trump doesn't "know much about the guys who are behind those (NFL) helmets" https://t.co/OHLhWjf6eo— CNN (@CNN) September 28, 2017
COOPER: Malcolm, thanks so much for being with us, I appreciate it.
JENKINS: Thanks for having me.
COOPER: You, this is not a new protest. You’ve been, since last season, you’ve been raising a fist during the national anthem. And I wondered if you could just explain why.
JENKINS: Well, one thing that I think that’s been missing this entire year is us getting to the real issues. I think it started when, last summer, you had the shooting of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. And as a black man in America with a platform, I no longer wanted to stand behind social media while we posted hashtag after hashtag of black people dying at the hands, unnecessarily, of law enforcement.
And so the first thing I wanted to do was get an understanding of how I could play a role in becoming part of the solution. And the way I did that was sitting down with local police officers and finding out what some of their struggles were, their issues were, their training, did they need resources? And through those conversations, we began to work on some dialogue and how we could better that relationship.
And soon there after you had the protest of Colin Kaepernick and I think what that did was that it showed athletes who are already doing this work behind the scenes, that we could bring this stuff to the forefront and really change the dialogue nationally about these issues and drawn attention to what’s happening in our communities.
COOPER: And Malcolm, to those who say taking a knee during the national anthem, or not coming out during the national anthem, is disrespectful, it’s unpatriotic, disrespectful to the flag, what do you say?
JENKINS: I could understand where that could come from and why they would feel that way. But I think you have to check the track record of a lot of players that are demonstrating and the NFL in general. I think we do a great job of honoring our military, our flag through our events. We have first responders, military, and police at almost every NFL game that we honor and hold up high. But this is not about them, it’s not about the flag at all, this is us, as concerned citizens, trying to play our role in a bigger conversation about race in America, a bigger conversation about our criminal justice system, and our law enforcement. And this is not an indictment against law enforcement or police. We’re not anti-police. Many of us have worked hand-in-hand with law enforcement to figure out ways to really move us forward in a better direction. To re-instill trust in our law enforcement and to really hold that accountability and transparency that our communities are looking for.
COOPER: When you heard the President in Alabama on Friday say that those taking the field, players taking the field are “sons of bitches,” I’m wondering personally what that meant to you and also now the President is saying those who take a knee or protest “should be fired”?
JENKINS: Well, I think it just, for me personally, it didn’t bother me much. Because I know who I am and I know the work that I’ve done.
It just shows that our President does not know much about the guys who are behind those helmets and behind those facemasks. You’ve got players like Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith, Chris Long, Michael Bennett, Devin McCourty, Johnson Bademosi, Glover Quin, Kenny Stills, and the list goes on and on. These are guys who are not only proclaiming and being activists verbally and with their platform. But they’re behind the scenes doing work in their communities and doing great work in being inclusive and speaking and trying to do their best to make this America great. And so for [Trump] to make those comments, it just shows a lack of understanding of who we are as players, what we do. And hopefully we can continue to showcase that and use our platforms for the betterment of our country and our communities.
Two of Jenkins’ teammates (who he mentioned) weighed in on Twitter.
I'll be watching @CNN @ 9 to see if they stop talking about the protest and focus on WHY folks are protesting— Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) September 28, 2017
Right now, my friend @MalcolmJenkins is on CNN. I promise if you'll listen, you may have many questions answered on what's being protested.— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) September 28, 2017
You'll also learn a lot about what's being DONE by players off the field to try to enact related change in communities.— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) September 28, 2017
Well would you look at that. I spy @NateBoyer37 as well on stage. Also great perspective from a hero and buddy of mine.— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) September 28, 2017
Great Job @MalcolmJenkins !!!! Folks needed to hear that!— Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) September 28, 2017