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There’s more to the beef between Eric Reid and Malcolm Jenkins

This past Sunday as NFL teams suited up for week seven, the Philidelphia Eagles and the Carolina Panthers featured a match-up far more intriguing than what was featured on any pre-game stat sheet.

As captains from both teams stepped onto the field for the coin toss, Eagles nine-year vet and Superbowl champion safety Malcolm Jenkins (who was, by the way, in fact, a chosen team captain) and Panthers newly mid-season signee, Eric Reid (who was not supposed to be on the field at all), got into a pretty visible on-field confrontation.

While the confrontation didn’t escalate to anything physical, Eric Reid’s comments after the game suggested that their point of contention was far from being resolved, saying to reporters after the Panther’s win that Jenkins was a “neo-colonist” and a “sell-out.”

You don’t have to have a degree in African-American studies or be a football savant to know that the issue between the two had nothing to do with the game that day.

The beef between the two safties dates back to Reid splitting from Jenkins’ Players Coalition after the organization struck a deal with NFL to stop anthem protest if the NFL donated $90 million to organizations supported by the players.

Reid was an early supporter of the movement started by Kaepernick that had players sitting or kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem to protest systemic racism in the United States, following Kaep’s lead and filing a grievance through the NFLPA, accusing NFL owners of colluding to avoid giving him a contract.

Jenkins’ group and the NFL agreed to a deal but Reid also wasn’t happy Kaepernick was excluded from meetings on the issue. Reid, 26, said after the game,

“We believe a lot of players should have stepped up for Colin. I believe Malcolm capitalized on the situation. He co-opted the movement that was started by Colin to get his organization funded. It’s cowardly. He sold us out.”

Clearly there was a bone Reid had been wanting to pick with Jenkins for a while and found his teams week seven match-up as the perfect opportunity — which is why the issue is more complicated than right or wrong. Yet that hasn’t stopped sports media.

First Take’s Stephen A Smith says he doesn’t “appreciate what Eric did” because of the language he used and High Noon’s Bomani Jones admits not being comfortable even discussing the altercation because “people listening don’t care about the underlying issues.”

And that’s the underlying issue: two men with separate means of change.

It’s not as simple as Malcolm Jenkins vs. Eric Reid because they actually want the same thing: a better NFL and attention to issues that disproportionately affect those that look like them.

It isn’t the solution, per say, that’s keeping the two safeties from seeing eye to eye as it’s the ideology, and, from the names called to the nature of the feud, it has an eerie similarities to Malcolm and Martin.

Pitting these two black men against each other, even if they themselves have strong disagreements, is not beneficial or productive to the cause we’re all striving for.

It’s not about right or wrong or what looked appropriate or what was the politically correct thing to do as much as it’s about figuring out how best to solve a common problem without losing allies in the process.

The coalition Jenkins founded fractured in November 2017 when Eric left the group and Kaepernick and Reid are still in a legal battle against the NFL claiming owners blackballed them from the league — so both sides still have no tangible victories to foresee.

What we’re doing by instigating the feud between Jenkins and Reid is playing the lazy game of blame instead of peeling back whats obviously multi-faceted and nuanced issue causing more harm than good. For now, let’s not pick sides but strive towards strengthening numbers.