Jenkins: McNair’s comments won’t stop progress

PHILADELPHIA — Houston Texans owner Bob McNair’s comments will not stop players from trying to work jointly with the NFL to bring about social change, Eagles safety and player coalition leader Malcolm Jenkins said Friday.

McNair issued a public apology Friday following an ESPN The Magazine report that quoted McNair as saying: “We can’t have the inmates running the prison” during last week’s owners meeting in reference to ongoing player demonstrations during the national anthem.

“From a player’s perspective, I think we’ve done a great job of trying to work in a collaborative manner with the league to really come up with solutions, to move forward and create some real change, and I don’t see that changing,” said Jenkins. “Obviously his comments will represent him, but from a player’s standpoint, we’re focused on our goals, we feel like we still have an opportunity to move forward with whoever is interested in doing that, and so hopefully we can get that same type of commitment from those in league leadership.

“That’s our goal. It’s not to appease one another, it’s not to change someone’s personal opinion, it’s just to get some actual work done and change done. That’s what our focus is going to be. Obviously you have quite a few different comments come from different owners, but I feel like players have been very, very diligent in making sure that our message has been one that we want to continue to push forward, that we want to continue to collaborate and move forward. So hopefully we can get to that point.”

Receiver DeAndre Hopkins‘ absence from Texans practice Friday was directly related to McNair’s comment, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Other players considered staging a walkout, according to ESPN’s Sarah Barshop.

Players around the league reacted strongly to McNair’s comments.

The ESPN The Magazine report shed light on the differing opinions within the ownership group. For example, Eagles chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie spoke in support the players’ right to kneel during the anthem, while Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones appeared to be “trying to build momentum for an anthem mandate resolution.” According to the report, McNair and Jones say they have been “fielding an avalanche of complaints from outraged fans” in Texas over the protests.

“You have the same issue with players. I mean, we’ve got players from all over with different opinions, but we’ve been able to keep that message the same on our end. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been reciprocated,” said Jenkins. “For us, we’ll stay the course. We understand that there’s a lot of personalities, a lot of different opinions in this, but that’s the nature of what we’re trying to get accomplished, is to try to work together and bring people together from different backgrounds and different mindsets to actually move forward to some change in our communities. Hopefully, all those who are interested in being involved get involved and move forward.”

NFL owners and players met in New York last week to discuss ways they might be able to work together on these issues. While no resolution came out of it, some left feeling optimistic that collaboration was possible. The players are hoping to hold another meeting with the owners next week.

“We’re waiting for some information from the league. We’re waiting for a couple things. But we’d like to have a meeting next week,” said Jenkins. “But that’s kind of depending on the league.”

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