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Malcolm Jenkins: NFL initiative will help players support causes

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and players Malcolm Jenkins and Anquan Boldin spoke publicly for the first time Monday about a nearly $90 million social justice initiative the league has launched to support efforts and programs combating social inequality.

"We've been doing a lot of this work over the last two years as players and for the league to recognize its responsibility and playing a role in helping us amplify our voices and these issues, I think it is commendable," Jenkins said.

During a conference call with reporters, Jenkins and Boldin said the new initiative -- a collaboration between the league, players, teams and community leaders -- aims to enhance the impact the players are making in helping their communities. They said the platform also allows them to promote the work players are doing to improve social equality.

The league will work closely with the Players Coalition -- a group co-founded by Jenkins and Boldin to address social issues important to players -- as part of the new and expanded community improvement program.

"This is a result of unprecedented dialogue and cooperation between NFL players, the ownership, and our office over the last year on important issues to all Americans, and I think we have a better understanding of these issues in large part due to the leadership of our players, particularly Malcolm and Anquan," Goodell said. "We have agreed to work together at the league and the club-level to support the players and to maximize the reach and effectiveness of these initiatives."

The initiative comes in response to player demonstrations during the national anthem before games. NFL owners and players met during the Fall League Meeting in October to discuss social issues important to players.

Boldin said the Players Coalition didn't have to "sell out" in order to work with the NFL on the initiative. Last week, at least three players left the Players Coalition after raising concerns about its partnership with the league.

"The NFL didn't have to do what it did," Boldin said. "You can't name another league or entity that has taken the concerns of their players and put resources behind it. ... This country has a real issue and the only way this issue is going to get solved is if we fight together instead of fighting against one another."

NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart said league resources for the initiative will not impact resources for other charitable programs the NFL supports.

"We are committed to using league and club resources along with the players to talk about these specific initiatives around the country and to simply promote the issues of social justice and equality," Goodell said.

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