Malcolm Jenkins has been on the forefront of NFL player activism for years, co-founding the Players Coalition, campaigning for criminal justice reform and peacefully protesting racism and systemic oppression. Now, the New Orleans Saints safety will bring his voice to one of the nation's top news networks, joining CNN as a commentator on national affairs related to racism and social justice.
Jenkins, who appeared on CBS News in the wake of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis, has been a featured guest on CNN before, but he'll be a regular contributor to several CNN studio shows under this deal, according to ProFootballTalk. The Pro Bowler, who spent the last six seasons of his career with the Philadelphia Eagles, confirmed the announcement on Monday via Twitter, where he reiterated that he's "more than an athlete."
"Having spent years running non-profits and supporting grassroots organizations to address the inequalities of our criminal justice system, educational system and disparate wealth in our marginalized communities, I believe I can be a voice for other athlete activists and those who have dedicated their lives to changing legislation, policies and reforms for human equality," Jenkins said in a statement, per PFT. "Now more than ever, the public needs to be educated on the roles of elected positions of power, such as the District Attorney, Police Chief or City Council and how to hold those individuals accountable, especially through their voice and their vote. In an important election year, I'm eager to join the CNN family and share my perspective as a regular contributor."
A two-time Super Bowl champion who returned to New Orleans in free agency, Jenkins is the first professional athlete to join CNN while still playing professionally, per Sports Business Radio. In 2016, he followed in the footsteps of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick by raising a fist during the national anthem to protest racial injustice. He's since ceased on-field demonstrations but has helped organize other player activists and prompt several financial commitments by the NFL toward social justice causes.