Malcolm Jenkins’ return to the Saints was nothing short of destiny

Malcolm Jenkins an ideal leader for the Saints amid the Drew Brees controversy

There may be no more prolific and dogged social justice champion in the NFL than Malcolm Jenkins. From co-founding the Players Coalition, a scholarship program, and a host of community initiatives, the Pro Bowl safety and Super Bowl champ has consistently been on the front lines addressing oppression by police and the American justice system when the rest of us were sleeping.

And that’s why his return to the New Orleans Saints this offseason is poetic at the very least, and perhaps ordained in the cosmos. Look no further than this week’s Drew Brees firestorm.

New Orleans Saints needed Malcolm Jenkins more than they could have known

Malcolm Jenkins may be the NFL’s foremost criminal justice reform advocate, which makes the timing his return to the New Orleans Saints especially crucial

If I may decontextualize Sam Elliott in The Big Lebowksi: “Sometimes, there’s a man… well, he’s the man for his time and place.” The man is Malcolm, the time is now, and the place is NOLA.

It’s simply not foreseeable that the Saints would have been the epicenter of the current hottest dialog in the sports world regarding player protests, racial justice, and police brutality. As a rock-solid advocate for criminal justice reform, you couldn’t have picked a tougher or more capable foil for face-of-the-Saints Drew Brees’ controversial remarks about disagreeing with any athlete who takes a knee during the national anthem for literally any reason.

Donald Trump might say he’s right out of Central Casting.

Jenkins has so much credibility on these matters that he went, in barely a day’s time, from profanely demanding that Brees shut his mouth to being the leading voice for reconciliation in the New Orleans locker room.

For just about any other player, that’s an utterly audacious high-wire act. For Jenkins, it was Thursday.

After five years with the Saints, Jenkins departed to spend the last six in Philadelphia, winning a ring with the Eagles. In short order, however, it feels like the man never left. He’s a source of wisdom to whom teammate old and new graciously defer.

Perhaps we should heed Sam Elliott’s advice and be careful about anointing someone a hero. But when the Saints needed a man for his time and place, there he was. He fits right in there. And it’s hard to imagine how this week’s events would have turned if he wasn’t around.

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