It's been quite an eventful year for Malcolm Jenkins, and the two-time Pro Bowl safety took a few minutes after practice Friday to talk about all of it on 5 Minutes with Roob.
Roob: It's been a very busy and successful year for you. How will you look back at 2017?
Jenkins: 2017 has been a grind, but here we are at the end of the year and a lot of that work is paying off. The team is having a lot of success, getting ready to enter the playoffs, got a baby girl due probably in the next month, just turned 30, made my second Pro Bowl and obviously a lot of good things happening with my foundation, being up for the Walter Payton Man of the Year and all the things that have been going on with the league, so it’s been a lot of work, man, but as we approach the end of the year, a lot of that work is starting to pay off.
Roob: You're involved in so many things. How do you find the time to play football and also stay so active with so many football and non-football causes that are so important to you?
Jenkins: It’s like anything. You prioritize. You schedule your day out, and you may make time for what you can do. Often times that means burning the candle at both ends and really sacrificing here and there, and knowing when to rest and I think I’ve done a good job of balancing that with the help of my family and my team. They’ve made it easier for me to handle all these different things. But when you’re passionate about something you realize that this stage and this status that you have as a player is a small portion of your life and you want to make sure that you capitalize on it on the field as well as off the field.
Roob: At what point in your life did you recognize that it was important for you to be vocal and active about some of the causes you've taken up?
Jenkins: I don’t think it came to me until probably my third or fourth year in the league. As I’ve been able to travel the country — growing up in (Piscataway) New Jersey, going to school in Ohio, then all of a sudden getting drafted in Louisiana, you see different areas and some of the disparities, whether it’s racially or economically and how people have different experiences and it’s not necessarily equal, and as I got older I started to see how I could play a role in being a remedy and being a solution to some of these things and using my platform to fight for other people, and you’ve seen that develop over the year. Once I got here in Philadelphia, it’s another experience, another community that I felt like could have a huge impact on, and that’s what I’ve been blessed to do through this game. Football has been given so much to me, I’m able to kind of take that and give back to others.
Roob: What do you like about this team?
Jenkins: We have a lot of fun. That’s my favorite thing about this team. It’s not about the individuals and the success of the individuals, it’s really about the success of the team and guys are having fun just playing their parts in it. Before the season, we had a lot of guys who weren’t necessarily household names and really only cared about winning. It’s a tight team, we have a lot of fun, and we’re really just enjoying the moment.
Roob: You just learned this week that you made your second Pro Bowl. Has this been your most consistent year with the Eagles?
Jenkins: My years in Philly have been great. It’s been getting better since I got here. I think the last three years have probably been my most consistent. This year I’ve been making plays in a bit of a different capacity, playing a lot more dime linebacker after we lost Jordan Hicks, whereas last year, I was playing more the nickel, going back and forth between safety and all those positions. But I have been pretty consistent but making plays in a different manner than I’m used to. But at the end of the day, just trying to do whatever it takes to win.
Roob: You know I'm going to ask you a track question. You never ran the 400-meter hurdles until the end of your senior year, but you still managed to place third in the New Jersey Meet of Champions in 53.8 behind Justin Gaymon, who missed making the U.S. Olympic team by 8-100ths of a second, and Tiquan Underwood, who also played in the NFL. How did you do so well so quickly at a new event?
Jenkins: I was a 400 runner. That was my big race. I ran the 200 as well, but I knew going into it that I had two dudes running 46-something in the open 4 (Bryan McCombs of Old Bridge and Carl Smith of Camden), and I wasn’t going to win that, so 'OK, I’ve got an opportunity to run another race,' so I just tried it. I figured it was just like the 400 but just with a couple hurdles in the way. I was running like a 47 in the open 4 so I figured if I can just run about a 53 pace, that’s easy. That’s jogging to me. And then just jump a few times, I could figure it out.