Malcolm Jenkins said Friday that he wishes other NFL owners – including Jeffrey Lurie – would speak up in opposition to the anti-protest stance of "bully" Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
"Jeffrey's been very supportive of us from the beginning," said Jenkins, who last season ended his raised-fist protest during the national anthem after NFL owners agreed to provide up to $89 million for social justice initiatives that address issues players raised. "I don't see Jeffrey as a bully, like Jerry Jones is. Lucky for me, I don't play for the Cowboys, nor would I want to.
"It's unfortunate that you have owners like him who use his position to intimidate and intentionally thwart even the idea of his players thinking individually, or having a voice about issues that affect their community."
Jones said recently that Cowboys players now must stand for the anthem, and can't even remain in the locker room in silent protest, despite the NFL owners' vote for a policy allowing that back in March. That policy currently is on hold; the league and the players' association are working toward a solution to the two-year-old anthem controversy, and met on Friday and issued a joint statement afterward.
Jones has said the Cowboys' stance won't be affected by those discussions. President Trump tweeted Friday in support of Jones' actions.
Stephen Jones, Jerry Jones' son and Cowboys executive vice president, said in a Thursday radio interview that Dallas players should stand "if they want to be a Dallas Cowboy." This seemed to threaten protesting players with being cut from the team.
"When you have owners like Jerry Jones who speak so strongly, has drawn his line in the sand, he's been very vocal about it, and you've had other owners be very quiet," Jenkins said. "Jerry Jones is now the voice of NFL ownership. So unless you have some other owners come out and make some definitive statements in some support [of protest], they're going to allow Jerry Jones to push the narrative, not only for NFL owners but for the NFL as well."
New York Giants co-owner Steve Tisch said last that no Giants players will be punished by the organization if they decide to protest during the national anthem. In May, New York Jets chairman Christopher Johnson said the team would pay any fines incurred by Jets players who protest.
Asked if he was looking specifically for Lurie to speak up, Jenkins said: "Yeah. He's included in that. I think every owner has a voice and will have to decide what they want to do. I think silence is compliance; if you don't speak on it, you allow it."
Jenkins, 30, is a 10th-year safety. He said Jones and Trump fueling the controversy helps publicize the players' point.
"The longer Jerry Jones wants to say stupid stuff in the media about how he wants to bully his players, great, you guys will bring cameras to me and I'll talk about how police brutality needs to end, how we need to end mass incarceration, and how we need to have better school systems for our kids and inner-city youth," Jenkins said.
Jenkins seems frustrated, though, over how the league continues to allow the issue to be framed as players protesting against the national anthem and against the U.S. military.
Jenkins said owners are "afraid of half of our fan base, to be honest, so they try to play to both sides and appease both sides, and they end up not satisfying anybody. They know, more than anybody, that it's not about the flag, it's not about the anthem. They've been right along with us in the community, they've met with police along with us, we've invited them to our events, they've seen us meeting with community activists, they know it has nothing to do with military or anything [like that]. I think the fact that they continue that rhetoric further divides this league, further divides players and owners, further divides even our country, because it continues to push that narrative that's just frankly not true."
Lurie and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell met with Jenkins, several other players, police and community leaders last Sept. 12 in Philadelphia, at Jenkins' urging.
During Super Bowl week, Lurie praised Jenkins as a "wonderful leader and tremendous football player."
"He has done a lot of hard work in the community ever since he got here. It's the quiet work that he does that is so impressive. I do support a lot of the issues that the players have brought up. They resonate with a lot of players and they should because they are from communities that are hit the hardest," Lurie told reporters. "As owner of a team in a big city like Philadelphia, I would do anything to help them and us make a difference with those issues. I think it's an important part of our culture."
The Eagles did not immediately respond to a request Friday for comment from Lurie on Jenkins' statements. There has been talk that Goodell doesn't want team officials making public comments until the league and the union reach a resolution.
In June, the team was disinvited from the traditional Super Bowl champions' visit to the White House after it became clear that only a few players, Lurie and a sprinkling of team officials planned on attending. The White House issued a statement saying that the Eagles "disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the national anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country."