The NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles used $50,000 from the team’s social justice fund to bail nine people out of jail before Thanksgiving, according to a report Tuesday, as NFL teams begin to utilize funding amassed after negotiations with league officials related to national anthem protests.
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The Eagles Social Justice Fund provided the $50,000 grant, composed of player donations and a matching contribution from the team itself, ESPN reported. The Players Coalition, which led negotiations with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league’s 32 owners in 2017, hosted an outreach event this week, inviting the nine individuals to take part.
"We recognize that the only reason that these people were in jail is because they couldn't afford to get out. If any of them had the resources I did, they would be out," Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, a member of the Players Coalition, told ESPN. "So it's not a matter of public safety or being convicted of a crime, which they haven't yet, it's just they're simply too poor for their freedom."
NFL executives committed $89 million in funding for social justice causes last November after conducting talks meant to resolve player national anthem protests that had roiled the league in recent years. Free agent NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick was one of dozens of players who knelt during the anthem to protest social injustice and police brutality.
The Eagles Social Justice Fund is “an annual pool that will award grants to local community programs whose efforts are focused on reducing barriers to equal opportunity through education, enhancing community/police relations, improving the criminal justice system, or other initiatives that are focused on poverty, racial equality, and workforce development,” according to a post on the team’s website.
Under the agreement’s terms, NFL teams will match player donations toward social justice outreach of up to $250,000, for a total of $500,000 per team. The Eagles have dispersed $190,000 to various non-profit organizations in Philadelphia, with efforts to address mass incarceration among the team’s top priorities.
“I am proud of the efforts of our players to embrace the role of giving a voice to those who do not have one and to be a part of the solution,” Eagles Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie said earlier this month. “Their dedication to addressing social justice issues is admirable and their passion for creating change in Philadelphia and beyond is inspiring."