Malcolm Jenkins is as much a social activist as he is an NFL player. He has been outspoken about Colin Kaepernick's right to protest, and the NFL Players Coalition -- of which Jenkins is the unofficial spokesperson -- will reportedly receive $89 million in donations from the league over the next seven years to "address social issues considered important to African-American communities," including education, criminal justice and law enforcement reform.
In 10 days, Jenkins and his Eagles teammates will face the Patriots in Super Bowl LII. And when they do Kempis Songster, who was released from a maximum-security prison last month, will be in attendance thanks to Jenkins.
As a Payton Award finalist for his work with the Players Coalition, Jenkins received two Super Bowl tickets.
A few weeks ago, I saw an article come across my text that he was getting out, and I wanted to do something special for him," Jenkins told the New York Daily News. "I didn't know what, but I knew I wanted to do something to celebrate him coming home because I understood he really dedicated himself to a life of service and he's trying to repay what he's taken from society. I know he has some great ideas and we're trying to accomplish the same thing when we talk about reform and healing our communities."
Songster, 45, served a 30-year sentence for a murder he committed as a teenager. He was originally sentenced to mandatory life in prison but his sentence was cut short when the Supreme Court ruled two years to that automatic life sentences for juveniles was unconstitutional.
"Once I got the opportunity to get those tickets through the Man of the Year, he was the first person that popped in my mind," said Jenkins, who met Songster on Dec. 29, the day after his release. "I know normally, people give those to kids or people who may be sick or who are well deserving, but I wanted to have an example that sometimes we can think outside the box and we can listen and hear from one another, so what better platform than the Super Bowl to show those examples?
"Because he's someone I'm going to lean on for insight of what's going on, who has been through the process, knows what's going on, how people are being affected," he continued. "Those are the voices I want to amplify when we talk about trying to change it. You have to be able to engage and Kempis is a great example of that."