Orlando Scandrick watches from home as Malcolm Jenkins leads Eagles to victory

Orlando Scandrick watches from home as Malcolm Jenkins leads Eagles to victory

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — When former Eagles cornerback Orlando Scandrick popped off about the team on Friday morning, it was just the cherry on top of what was already a distraction-filled couple of weeks. 

It was like there was one giant circus tent over the NovaCare Complex. 

But the Eagles stayed together. Their leaders led. Their playmakers made plays. Their coaches put together solid gameplans. 

In every facet on Sunday afternoon, the Eagles responded. 

“I think the guys in this room, we respond to adversity,” Malcolm Jenkins said. “I think it brings us together. I think, more so where we are as a team right now, we needed this game at this point in the season. Felt like we had to make a decision. Came together this week and really just worked.” 

With their backs against the wall, facing a possible 3-5 start to their season, the Eagles went to Buffalo to face a 5-1 team and came away with a much-needed 31-13 win. They might have just saved their season. 

On Friday afternoon, Jenkins was as angry as I’ve ever seen him as he answered questions about Scandrick’s FS1 debut. On Sunday afternoon, Jenkins was asked if he had anything to say to Scandrick and responded, “Nope.” He let his play and the scoreboard do the talking. 

Because right now, Scandrick’s NFL career is over and the Eagles improved to 4-4, extending their postseason hopes, without him. 

“Nothing outside of this locker room matters,” Jenkins said. “At the end of the day, what we do on that field, how we prepare to go out on that field, that’s all that wins games. You win or lose based on that. The things people say or all the things that are outside of our building, outside of this locker room, have no impact.”

During Scandrick’s diatribe against his former team, he went hardest after Jenkins, whom he called a selfish player. 

That didn’t sit well with Jenkins or most of his teammates. For years now, Jenkins has been known as the main leader of the Eagles’ defense and one of the main leaders of the entire team. So to question his leadership was shocking. And the Eagles rightfully called him out for that on their Twitter account Friday afternoon. 

But before Scandrick’s comments, the Eagles already had a productive work week without him and Jenkins was his usual self. He was the leader of the defense.  

“I saw Malcolm do what he does best and do what he normally does,” fellow safety Rodney McLeod said. “And that’s lead this team, lead the defensive unit, speak up when necessary. Really, he’s a guy who backs it up through his actions. You seen him out there this week, the way he prepped, kind of leading by example. When you have guys like that, man, everyone else follows. We ride behind two-seven. He’s the guy, man, and he made some big plays today.”

It seemed like the Eagles got big plays from their best players on Sunday. Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham got after Josh Allen. The offensive line had a dominant performance. Carson Wentz made smart decisions. 

After losing by 18 points in Minnesota and 27 points in Dallas, there probably wasn’t much reason for anyone outside the organization to believe in the Eagles. But the guys inside the locker room did. 

And their leaders stepped up all week.  

“I think whenever you’re losing, adversity reveals character,” Jason Kelce said. “When times get tough and whatnot, people show who they really are. I think we have some really good leaders on this team that kept guys straight. That’s kind of the way it goes. When you lose games, you’re going to have to deal with this stuff. Losing how bad we did the last couple of weeks, it’s going to be magnified even more. We’ve got enough guys around here who have been through it and understand that.”

At his locker on Friday afternoon, Jenkins was asked if he was interested to see how the Eagles were going to respond to all this adversity. He scoffed and said he wasn’t. He already knew how they were going to respond. 

Turns out he was right. 

There’s a reason Jenkins is one of the veteran leaders on this team. And there’s a reason Scandrick watched the game from his couch.

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'Break the cycles of racism,' Josh McCown urges

'Break the cycles of racism,' Josh McCown urges

Longtime NFL quarterback Josh McCown urged white people in America to help “break the cycles of racism” during a roundtable on race relations on NFL Network on Monday.

McCown, who spent last year with the Eagles, appeared on the program with Steve Wyche and Michael Robinson as well as Bills cornerback Josh Norman. McCown and Norman are members of the Players Coalition task force, a board of 12 voting members that formulates policy for the larger group of NFL players interested in social justice.

We wanted to start using our voice and leveraging our platform for good to hope we make a dent in this and bring about change,” McCown said. “It’s not about praying for change but it's praying for courage to be the change. That's what it is about right now. I'm thankful that other people, in the middle of this global pandemic, we're finally realizing what the real pandemic is, and we're finally seeing it.

NFL Network devoted Monday’s NFL Total Access to the topic of race relations following a difficult weekend in numerous U.S. cities marked by peaceful protests, violent confrontations and widespread looting a week after the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.

It's the conversations inside our own walls that we must change, and it's a language inside our own walls that we must change,” McCown said. “I'm so heartbroken for George Floyd and his family. So my prayer is that there would be courage to rise out of this and good to come from this, and that we would continue to move this thing forward and gain ground in this area because this is a true thing that's going to kill us. It's not COVID-19, it's this. This is what we have to fight against. It's on us as white people to step up, have a conversation with one another that would start to change and break the generation of cycles of racism that we see throughout our country.

McCown spoke about how he as a white person in America simply doesn’t have to concern himself with the same things African Americans do. 

"As a white person in America, when you wake up there's things you're not even contemplating, that you don't even have to think about,” he said. “Whereas an African American in this country, the experience is vitally different. … It burdened my heart that we're different and our experiences are different. If our experiences are different, we have to talk about that. And that's not for the African American to talk to a white person about it — it's white people to talk to white people about that.”

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Malcolm Jenkins and Colin Kaepernick tried to tell us and we didn't listen

Malcolm Jenkins and Colin Kaepernick tried to tell us and we didn't listen

This week, as the country yet again confronts police brutality, racism and raw emotion in the wake of George Floyd’s killing, I thought back to a conversation I had with Malcolm Jenkins in the summer of 2018. 

I was writing a story about Jenkins and his role as a leader in a movement against police brutality, one that aimed for racial equality and criminal justice reform. As hesitant as he once was to become one of the faces of that movement, it was a responsibility he accepted. And, frankly, that stoic resolve impressed the hell out of me. 

Jenkins felt like it was his duty. 

Jenkins explained that back in 2016, just weeks after he and some teammates met with the Philadelphia police commissioner about the struggles between the black community and police, Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem. That’s when it clicked. 

I think for me, it showed that there are other guys out there who are feeling the same frustrations as me amongst my peers,” Jenkins said in 2018. “And, two, what Colin taught all of us is how much social capital we have as athletes. We might not be the richest out there or the experts or the politicians. 

“We have social capital and can literally change the dialogue in the conversation worldwide. At that moment, I thought if we can create these different moments in silos as individuals, how impactful could it be if we collectively did something? I think for me, that’s when that vision was planted.

"Social capital” is a fancy way of saying athletes have a platform. The idea of athletes using their platform to promote social change isn’t a new one, but this was like a new wave. 

Jenkins, Kaepernick and others used their platform to engage in the most non-violent forms of protest imaginable. A knee on the ground, a fist in the air. 

And they still met resistance. 

They were right back then and they’re still right today. Everyone should have listened. 

They tried to highlight injustice and were told to shut up and play a game, Kaepernick was blackballed. And the list of dead black men continued to grow.

But Sundays are for football. Sundays are for beer drinking and wing eating and how dare these black men do anything other than entertain me, right? How dare they make me face harsh truths about my country when I’d rather escape for a couple hours and watch my TV. 

We all need escapes; I get it. But think about the privilege it takes to ask a black man to stop protesting the unlawful deaths of other black men at the hands of police so that you can enjoy a game. That’s what happened. For the most part, the NFL stood idly by hoping that it — the kneeling, not the killing — stopped so their wallets wouldn’t suffer. 

The arguments against the demonstrations were that they disrespected the flag, disrespected military. They didn’t, of course, but that was the argument. 

As a result, the protests during the national anthem became so bastardized that Jenkins was already thinking about giving them up in 2017. (He finally did after the NFL and the Players Coalition joined a partnership that included $90 million for projects dealing with criminal justice reform and law enforcement relations.) It seemed like the focus had become more about the actual demonstration than about the reasons for them in the first place. 

The reasons, of course, are still out there. A week ago in Minneapolis, a police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on Floyd’s neck until he stopped breathing. Chauvin has been arrested and charged with murder but the three officers who stood there, complicit, are still free men. 

This is why Kaepernick took a knee. This is why Jenkins raised a fist. 

Next time, we all need to listen.