Malcolm Jenkins returns to the place he called home for six NFL seasons when the New Orleans Saints visit the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
After a half-dozen years in Philly, the Eagles moved on from the 32-year-old safety. Jenkins headed back to New Orleans, where he'd start his career. Ahead of Sunday's return to the City of Brotherly Love, Jenkins didn't hide the emotion he expects to harbor.
"I gave everything I had to that city, the team, did everything the coaches asked me to do, did everything to make the players around me better, try to put my best football out there and it just wasn't valued that much by those who make the decisions," Jenkins said Wednesday when asked about leaving the Eagles, via the Associated Press.
"So, for me, it was just more of a principle about respect. I really didn't care what the money was, but I wanted to see what that respect factor was and it wasn't valued at what I thought, and so decisions are made and I end up at a place that values what I bring that has really had a history with me and obviously has worked out."
The Eagles and Jenkins parted ways in the offseason after the club didn't want to extend the safety's contract -- due $7.6 million for one more year.
At the time, questions abounded about how the Eagles would replace the veteran's presence both on and off the field. In a tumultuous 2020 season in Philly, it seems like the Eagles could use someone with Jenkins' pedigree to help steady a wobbly ship.
"Malcolm meant a lot. He brought a ton -- a ton -- of leadership," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. "Obviously, his play speaks for itself on the football field. (He) helped us win a championship here. But, his leadership, both on and off the football field, I haven't really seen that from a player in a long time. He cares about the community that he's living in or where he's from and he always represents that well."
Heading back to New Orleans turned out to be a positive for Jenkins, who is on the top team in the NFC with a surging defense that's smothering opponents. On the opposite side of the field Sunday, he'll see many former teammates who are experiencing the rigors of a floundering season.
"I love that city," Jenkins said. "Given myself, everything I've got into that community, invested a lot into that community. And it's given the same love back to me. So, that city holds a special place in my heart.
"Philly was me. It was synonymous at one point in time," Jenkins added. "So, it's going to be very nostalgic. I've definitely been looking forward to this game kind of all year."
Jenkins owns Super Bowl championship rings from both Philly and New Orleans. In his quest to snag a third band, his Saints need to handle their business Sunday against the Eagles to keep pace for the sought-after first-round playoff bye.