Malcolm Jenkins flipped off Sean Payton after giving up a big play, but it wasn't what it seemed
Jenkins was caught flipping Payton the bird, but the Eagles safety implied it wasn't due to hard feelings
The Saints did to the Eagles on Sunday what they do to ... well ... everyone right now. They picked the Eagles apart in a 48-7 win, and safety Malcolm Jenkins was not thrilled about it. Jenkins was caught flipping off Saints head coach Sean Payton at one point in the game, although he wanted to clear up the misunderstanding -- and Payton clearly didn't take it personally.
"I think the world of him. He's a tremendous player," Payton said after the game, per ESPN. "I hate that he got out of here. That was probably as big a mistake as we've made here in 13 years. He's made up of all the right things, and he's a tremendous competitor."
Hindsight, of course, is 20/20 in this case, as the Saints let Jenkins walk to sign prized free agent Jairus Byrd. Byrd played just three seasons for the Saints and was, by all measures, a bust. He played fairly well in 2016, but it wasn't enough, and between a mysterious back injury and a torn lateral meniscus that left him a shell of his former self, the Saints couldn't justify keeping him on. Jenkins, meanwhile, went on to become an All-Pro safety and win a Super Bowl with the Eagles, so it worked out well for him. He also doesn't appear to have any hard feelings, despite the middle finger.
"I'm a competitor. I love Sean to death. I know what type of guy and coach he is. That was more so personal between me and him," Jenkins said, via NBC Sports Philadelphia. "We talked after the game. It's all good. I know Sean. They're going to go for it. I was more so upset that it was on me."
Jenkins is referring to a 4th-and-7 play in which the Saints went for it, completing a touchdown pass to Alvin Kamara (who had gotten past Jenkins in coverage) to go up 45-7.
While it may have seemed unnecessary, like the Saints were piling on, Payton said that he didn't want to kick it and with nearly the entire fourth quarter ahead of him, he didn't want to ease up. The Drew Brees MVP Campaign Fund may also have something to do with it, but he'd never admit as much.
Jenkins is an emotional player, and he always has been, but everyone has flipped the bird to their friends every now and then. Jenkins just happened to do it in a setting where there are eyes everywhere.
Watch the Saints host the Falcons at 8:20 p.m. ET on Thursday night on NBC (stream on fuboTV, try for free), and the Eagles host the Giants at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday on Fox (stream on fuboTV, try for free).
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