- Tom Szczerbowski/Getty
- Two prominent names, Michael Thomas and Eric Reid, have left the NFL Players Coalition.
- They cited a number of reasons for their departure, including the exclusion of Colin Kaepernick and problems with leadership and communication within the group.
- The NFL recently proposed an $89 million commitment to social justice causes, drawing a mixed reaction from the coalition.
Weeks after a group of NFL players first met with league officials and owners to discuss activism and social justice, the Players Coalition has been fractured by a number of significant disagreements.
The coalition was founded in September by the Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and retired wide receiver Anquan Boldin, but it now appears that at least two of the players took issue with their leadership style. On Wednesday, the Miami Dolphins safety Michael Thomas and the San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid tweeted identical statements announcing their plans to leave the coalition.
“The Players Coalition was supposed to be formed as a group that represents NFL Athletes who have been silently protesting social injustices and racism,” they wrote. “However, Malcolm and Anquan can no longer speak on our behalf as we don’t believe the coalition’s beliefs are in our best interests as a whole. We will continue to have dialogue with the league to find equitable solutions but without Malcolm and Anquan as our representatives.”
The players disagreed on a number of issues, including the inclusion of Colin Kaepernick in the coalition. Reid said that Jenkins essentially removed the free agent quarterback without consulting the other members.
“Malcolm kicked Colin out of the coalition following the meeting in New York at the beginning of the season,” he told the Associated Press. “There’s a group message. [Jenkins] is the administrator and he took Colin out.”
Jenkins didn’t have much to say about the situation, saying he’s “not sure about whether Kaepernick wants to be involved.”
The Kaepernick question wasn’t the only one that divided the group. ESPN recently reported that the NFL has proposed an $89 million donation to social justice projects in an apparent effort to curb the players’ protests during the national anthem, an offer that drew a mixed reaction. But according to Reid, it was the lack of communication between Jenkins and the rest of the coalition that ultimately caused the split.
“Malcolm did text me this morning asking if we would be comfortable ending our demonstrations if the NFL made a donation,” he said. “At that point, that was the last straw for me. He had a conversation with the NFL. We agreed that multiple people would be part of the conversations with the league so it just wouldn’t be him. He didn’t stand by his word on that.”
Jenkins said he was “disappointed” that the disagreements were made public and restated his commitment to the coalition’s aims. But according to the Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills, who remains with the coalition, Thomas and Reid weren’t the only players unhappy with the group’s leadership.
“We were trying to work together and bring all the players together to work together. It just hasn’t been going that way,” Stills told ESPN. “We don’t feel like everyone was getting the same voice.”
Beyond the communication issues, Reid was unhappy that Jenkins tried to broker an agreement that could potentially end the protests. Reid, the first player to join Kaepernick in taking a knee, said that the plan seemed to come out of nowhere.
“That was never discussed at any point. I feel like I’ve been misled,” Reid said. “I won’t accuse Malcolm of directly lying to me, because I don’t think he’s that type of guy. But I will say he’s misled us. And shoot, if that’s what lying is, then that’s what it is.”
The Players Coalition will continue on without Reid and Thomas. The NFL’s $89 million proposal remains on the table.