NFL players are at odds after dismissal of Colin Kaepernick from Players Coalition by another player

  • 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."

Players who are or were in the NFL Players Coalition
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Players who are or were in the NFL Players Coalition
ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 19: Malcolm Jenkins #27 of the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium on November 19, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - NOVEMBER 26: Eric Reid #35 celebrates after intercepting a pass against the Seattle Seahawks at Levi's Stadium on November 26, 2017 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 15: Miami Dolphins free safety Michael Thomas (31) reacts at the end of the Miami Dolphins v Atlanta Falcons game Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017. The Miami Dolphins won the game 20-17. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Anquan Boldin, former wide receiver of the Detroit Lions of the National Football League (NFL) and founder of the Anquan Boldin Foundation, speaks at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., on Monday, May 1, 2017. The conference is a unique setting that convenes individuals with the capital, power and influence to move the world forward meet face-to-face with those whose expertise and creativity are reinventing industry, philanthropy and media. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 18: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers looks on from the sidelines during the second half against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on December 18, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 26: New York Jets Linebacker Demario Davis #56 reacts after tackling Carolina Panthers Runningback Jonathan Stewart #28 during the first half of a regular season NFL game between the Carolina Panthers and the New York Jets on November 26, 2017, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. (Photo by David Hahn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 08: Los Angeles Chargers offensive tackle Russell Okung (76) warms up prior to the National Football League game between the New York Giants and the Los Angeles Chargers on October 8, 2017, at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 05: Defensive end Chris Long #56 of the Philadelphia Eagles encourages the crowd to get loud against the Denver Broncos during the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on November 5, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 19: Kenny Stills #10 of the Miami Dolphins looks on before a NFL game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Hard Rock Stadium on November 19, 2017 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Ron Elkman/Sports Imagery/ Getty Images)

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."

Fans react to NFL players protesting during national anthem
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Fans react to NFL players protesting during national anthem
Oct 8, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans fan holds up signs before the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 01: A fan in the stands yells at players during the national anthem prior to the game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Buffalo Bills at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 01: A Cleveland Browns fan holds a sign in protest durning the nation anthem in the game between the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Justin Aller /Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 01: Fans making a statement about the recent national anthem protests during a football game at NRG Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 01: A detail view of a sign displayed by fans during a game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 01: Fans making a statement about the recent national anthem protests during a football game at NRG Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Charger fans make their way to the stadium past Donald Frazell from Los Angeles as he holds a sign near other protesters demonstrating in support of NFL players who "take a knee" before kickoff and during the National Anthem protesting police violence outside the StubHub Center where the Los Angeles Chargers are playing the Philadelphia Eagles in an NFL football game in Carson, California, U.S. October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok
Oct 1, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos fans show their support with t-shirts in reference to standing for the American national anthem during the fourth quarter of a game against the Oakland Raiders at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 24, 2017; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers fans hold up signs in the fourth quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 24, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Cleveland Browns fans during their game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 24, 2017; Foxborough, MA, USA; A New England Patriots fan holds a sign as they take on the Houston Texans in the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 25: Fans hold signs before the singing of the National Anthem before the NFL game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Dallas Cowboys at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 25, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
At the start of the game protestors take a knee in support of the movement started by NFL player Colin Kaepernick, outside Lincoln Financial Field, in South Philadelphia, PA, on September 24, 2017. Similar protest are staged around the nation after US President Donald Trump named Kaepernick a Son of A Bitch at a recent rally. (Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 8: A fan of the Cincinnati Bengals holds up a sign showing his opposition to players kneeling during the national anthem during the game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills at Paul Brown Stadium on October 8, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)

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.

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