Malcolm Jenkins is retiring after a 13-year NFL career in which he has established himself as one of the league’s best overall safety, most enduring players and leading voices for social justice.
Jenkins helped both the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles win their only Super Bowl and made a huge impact off the field as an activist, entrepreneur and philanthropist.
“I’ve been playing football since I was 7 years old, and I achieved so much in that time,” Jenkins told The Associated Press. “When I wanted my career, I wanted to change the game or at least have an impact on the game, not only on the field, but off the field. … Made the Pro Bowls and had all the awards and I really felt like I left a mark on the game that was my own unique way, and I think, at this point, I’m very excited about all that energy and to put in the effort I put into excellent football to do some of the other things in life, some of the projects that I have a passion for and it’s just that time for me. ”
The 34-year-old Jenkins was selected as a cornerback by the Saints in the first round of the 2009 draft from Ohio State. He switched to safety the next season and thrived. He left New Orleans for Philadelphia in 2014 and started every game with the Eagles for six seasons. He made three Pro Bowls and was an instrumental leader in the 2017 Eagles team that won the Super Bowl, despite the loss of starting quarterback Carson Wentz and several important starters.
Jenkins played 2,651 consecutive screenshots from the start of the 2017 playoffs to part of the 2020 season in New Orleans. He returned to the Saints that year and helped them play 4-0 against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in the regular season for the past two years. However, Tampa Bay beat New Orleans in the 2020 playoffs in Drew Brees’ last game.
“I think competition is probably the biggest thing I will miss from the game,” Jenkins said. “I am admittedly a junkie for competition. I would compete with my grandmother in Monopoly as if it were the Super Bowl, so I have to find different ways to channel that energy. But there is no higher competition than Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, especially in the NFC South. “
Jenkins helped create the Players Coalition to fight for racial and social equality and served on the NFLPA Executive Committee board. He was named a visiting fellow at Harvard’s Weatherhead Initiative on Global History, becoming the first black professional athlete to be honored with the esteemed fellowship.
Jenkins co-founded several businesses, including Listen Up Media, a multimedia production company with the mission of displaying and distributing content that creates social awareness around systemic issues in society. He launched Broad Street Ventures, a $ 10 million investment instrument funded entirely by black and brown investors, including a group of fellow NFL players. He started Disrupt Foods, a multi-unit franchise developer and operator of more than 20 fast-food restaurants aimed at leveling the economic playing field for Blacks and Hispanics through franchise ownership. He opened Damari, a custom clothing company that includes ready-to-wear and custom-made men’s suits.
A three-time NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year finalist and winner of the 2017 NFLPA Byron “Whizzer” White Award, Jenkins seeks to make a positive difference in the lives of youth in underserved communities through The Malcolm Jenkins Foundation.
“There’s some relief in having the space to put in the same effort in all these other endeavors, but I do think it comes with some anxiety,” Jenkins said. “While these things were great to work on, football was all I knew for a large majority of my life. It becomes part of your identity, it becomes part of who you are. And so I do think there’s a bit of anxiety about letting it go, but it’s immediately met with excitement.
“I really believe in myself and my abilities to do other things. And so to be able to step into it, it’s a little exciting to go into the unknown. It’s not like I’m just jumping off the cliff into the abyss. I’ve been building things up for the last five years with my team around me, doing other business ventures to make sure that when I walk away from this game, I’m doing well. I look forward to working on some of the creative things I have, some of the aspects of me that people do not see because I am trapped in the box of an athlete. ”
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