Eagles’ Jenkins: NFL owners declined meeting with players

Philadelphia Eagles' Malcolm Jenkins (27), Derek Barnett (96) and Jalen Mills (31) scramble along with San Francisco 49ers' DeForest Buckner (99) for a blocked field goal-attempt by Robbie Gould (9), bottom right, during an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, one of the founders of The Players Coalition, said the next proposed meeting between the owners and players to discuss social justice initiatives has been canceled.

“The league didn’t accept our invitation,” Jenkins said Sunday.

NFL players proposed to meet Monday in Philadelphia. Jenkins said the league cited scheduling and logistical issues.

“At this point, the ball is in their court,” Jenkins said. “We’ll continue to do what we’ve been doing. Guys are working around the league.”

League spokesman Brian McCarthy said Sunday night: “Nothing is set, but the league is eager to continue the dialogue with the players.”

The league and players met last week in New York to discuss player demonstrations during the national anthem and other issues.

“They want to get back to football; we want to move past anthem demonstrations,” Jenkins said. “But to do that, we need to be able to replace the platform that we have.”

Jenkins wants a venue outside the stadium and not during the anthem for athletes to raise awareness of social issues.

“We don’t really enjoy doing this,” Jenkins said. “We’d love to have a different platform and we think that’s something we could work collaboratively with the NFL to create, to actually draw awareness to the issues we’re doing, to use the NFL as a vehicle to make real change.”

Colin Kaepernick, who began kneeling during the national anthem before the 2016 season and currently is out of the NFL, did not attend the meeting last week.

Jenkins declined to address a report Sunday on Slate.com that said Kaepernick had been iced out of discussions between owners and players. Jenkins and other players had said Kaepernick was invited.

McCarthy also made it clear the NFL would like to include Kaepernick.

“We would welcome Colin at a meeting, but it’s the players who are extending the invitations,” he said.

Kaepernick has filed a grievance against the NFL, alleging that he was not signed because of collusion by owners who wanted him out of the league because of the protests.

Jenkins said the players want Kaepernick “to be a part of the conversation.”

San Francisco safety Eric Reid, who took a knee during the national anthem again Sunday, said Kaepernick told him he would attend if invited.

“I know Colin has been fighting to get in the room to speak to the appropriate people in the NFL,” Reid said. “He told me that he was explicitly told he had no place being there. The NFL wants the protests to end. It’s bad for their business. But it’s ridiculous that they don’t want Colin to be there being that he was the first one to start protesting. If we have to force him into the room, that’s what we’ll do.”

Chargers linebacker Russell Okung, who has been raising his fist during the national anthem, said the league has “amazing political and economic power” and hoped it would walk with the players “to will that power in a way that changes the dynamic of our country.”

Jenkins and Eagles’ teammate Rodney McLeod raised their fists during the national anthem Sunday. Kneeling across the field on the San Francisco 49ers sideline were Reid, Eli Harold, Adrian Colbert and Marquise Goodwin.

All but 10 members of the Houston Texans took a knee during the national anthem Sunday, as the vast majority of the team protested the owner’s “inmates running the prison” comment. Before this week, no Texans had protested during the anthem.

“It’s already a sensitive issue,” Jenkins said. “What am I proud of is, I feel like the voice of the players has been pretty concise and consistent. Even when you’ve had responses the president, responses from different owners that have not been in the good spirit of solidarity. The players have remained pretty level-headed. We’re more concerned about getting actual work done and change and going about the right steps to do that.”

Jenkins said he did not know when players and owners might meet again.

“I feel like we’ve done everything that we needed to do to really try to work in a collaborative effort with the league,” Jenkins said. “We’ve showed up at meetings that they’ve requested. We’ve had the conversations they wanted to between us.”

Jenkins was among a group of Eagles that made a trip last week to the state capitol in Harrisburg and met with legislators to discuss criminal justice reform.

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AP Pro Football Writers Rob Maaddi and Barry Wilner contributed.

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