Malcolm Jenkins is retiring after a 13-year career in the NFL during which he established himself as one of the league’s best players, most enduring players and leading voices for social justice.
Jenkins helped the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles win their only Super Bowl and had a major impact off the court as an activist, entrepreneur and philanthropist.
“I’ve been playing football since I was 7 and I’ve accomplished so much in that time,” Jenkins told The Associated Press. “When I started my career, I wanted to change the game or at least have an impact on the game, not only on the court but off the court. … I made the Pro Bowls and I had all the accolades and I really felt like I left a mark on the game that was my own way, and I think at this point I’m really excited to put all that energy and effort that I put into excelling in football to do some of the other things in life, some of the projects that I’m passionate about and it’s just that moment for me.
Jenkins, 34, was selected by the Saints as a cornerback in the first round of the 2009 draft at Ohio State. He moved to safety the following season and thrived. He left New Orleans for Philadelphia in 2014 and started every game for six seasons with the Eagles. He made three Pro Bowls and was an instrumental leader on the 2017 Eagles team that won the Super Bowl despite losing starting quarterback Carson Wentz and several key starters.
He won the Super Bowl with the Saints in 2009 and the Eagles in 2017, and he was selected for the Pro Bowl in 2015, 2017 and 2018.
Jenkins played 2,651 consecutive snaps from the start of the 2017 playoffs through part of the 2020 season at New Orleans. He returned to the Saints that year and helped them go 4-0 against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in the regular season the past two years. However, Tampa Bay beat New Orleans in the 2020 playoffs in Drew Brees’ last game.
“I think the competition is probably the biggest thing I’ll miss in the game,” Jenkins said. “I am definitely a competition junkie. I’m going to compete with my grandmother in Monopoly like it’s the Super Bowl, so I have to find different ways to channel that energy. But there’s 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 of Directors. He was named a visiting scholar at Harvard’s Weatherhead Initiative on Global History, becoming the first black professional athlete to be honored with this prestigious scholarship.
Jenkins has co-founded several companies, including Listen Up Media, a multimedia production company whose mission is to present and distribute content that creates social awareness around systemic issues in society. He launched Broad Street Ventures, a $10 million investment vehicle 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 quick-service restaurants aimed at leveling the economic playing field for blacks and Hispanics through franchise ownership. He opened Damari, a bespoke clothing business featuring ready-to-wear and bespoke men’s suits.
A three-time NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year finalist and 2017 NFLPA Byron “Whizzer” White Award winner, Jenkins aims to make a positive difference in the lives of young people in underserved communities through of the Malcolm Jenkins Foundation.
“There’s some relief in being able to have the space to put the same effort into all these other businesses, but I think that comes with some anxiety,” Jenkins said. “While those things have been great to work on, football has been all I’ve known for a large majority of my life. It’s part of your identity, it’s part of who you are. And so I think that There’s a bit of anxiety about letting go, but it immediately sparks excitement.
“I really believe in myself and my abilities to do other things. And so to be able to get into that, it’s kind of exciting to go into the unknown. It’s not like I’m jumping from the cliff into the abyss. I’ve been building things over 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 okay. I look forward to working on some of the creative things that I have, some of the aspects of me that people don’t see because I’m stuck in the box of being an athlete.
New York Post