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The controversy over protests during the national anthem at NFL games last season helped propel issues of racial inequality and social injustice to the forefront and gave athletes a stronger voice to bring about change Cheap Jaire Alexander Jersey , current and former players said Friday.

The players, who spoke at a Harvard Law School summit on criminal justice reform, said they capitalized on the attention surrounding the protests to highlight issues they care about, like mass incarceration.

Now, they’re using their platform to talk to lawmakers, police chiefs and prosecutors across the country about injustices they see in the communities where they grew up.

”With all of the controversy and the fanfare around (the protests), it created a platform that was probably larger than any of us would have had individually, and we were able to leverage that,” said Malcolm Jenkins, a safety on the Philadelphia Eagles and co-founder of the Players Coalition, a group of NFL athletes advocating for policies to further social and racial equality.

Colin Kaepernick started the NFL anthem movement when he was with the San Francisco 49ers in 2016 to protest racial inequality and police brutality. Some players knelt during the anthem, an act that drew the ire of Republican President Donald Trump, who called for NFL owners to fire such players.

In response to the player demonstrations, the NFL agreed to commit $90 million over the next seven years to social justice causes in a plan that involves league players.

New England Patriot Devin McCourty said in an interview with The Associated Press that the NFL’s support of the players’ mission has been encouraging.

”I think the NFL has seen the bigger picture – that this is not just the players trying to do something to give back – but these are real issues that not just the players should care about but we should all care about,” said McCourty http://www.saintsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-tre_quan-smith-jersey , who spent Thursday at the Massachusetts statehouse lobbying lawmakers on juvenile justice issues.

The athletes were joined at the Harvard summit by Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and other lawyers as well as professors, judges and activists. The players participated in small group discussions about policing, prosecutors and sentencing reform.

During a panel discussion led by The New York Times Magazine’s Emily Bazelon, the players discussed personal experiences – like watching videos of police shootings of black men or hearing the stories of their own family members – that drove them into activism.

They spoke of the need for police to have stronger relationships with people in their communities and the importance of having real conversations about race, even when it makes people uncomfortable.

”We have the unique ability to bring people to the table and now we have the responsibility when we have everyone at the table to speak truth and kind of force that conversation,” Jenkins said.

The players said some athletes worry that getting involved in social or political issues will hurt their careers. But they said they hope that lending their voices to these causes will inspire others to take action.

”A lot of people just think about athletes as just jocks, but there are some brilliant minds in those locker rooms,” said Anquan Boldin, a former Baltimore Raven.

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This story has been corrected to reflect that Jenkins’ first name is Malcolm not Malcom.



Follow Alanna Durkin Richer at When Emmanuel Sanders returned from vacation to start the Denver Broncos' offseason training program, he went straight to the team store and loved what he saw.

Hanging off the racks were No. 4 Case Keenum jerseys.

For the first time since Peyton Manning's retirement after Super Bowl 50, the Broncos entered their offseason training program certain of who will be under center after signing Keenum to a two-year, $36 million deal and declaring him the starter.

"I appreciate it, for sure," Sanders said Wednesday. "This is the first time in two or three years that I'm not standing up here talking about a quarterback debate. I remember when I got out here, I went out to the team store and I saw Case Keenum jerseys . I was like Maury Wills Jersey , 'Thank God, I don't have to deal with that again.'

"Case is our guy. We can go from there. We can work our butts off, try to gain chemistry and try to put up points."

On the day he signed his contract, Keenum was named the starter by general manager John Elway, who also traded Trevor Siemian, who had beaten Paxton Lynch for the starting quarterback job each of the past two summers, to Minnesota.

After the draft last weekend, Elway reiterated two things about Lynch, whom he traded up to draft in the first round out of Memphis two years ago:

鈥擧e still believes he'll figure things out and become a starting NFL quarterback.

鈥擧e'll have to beat out Chad Kelly this offseason to win the backup job.

If he doesn't, it would mark the third straight summer that Lynch has failed to beat out a seventh-rounder for a job.

Sanders, who said he's healthy after being bothered by an ankle injury almost all of last season, is a big fan of Keenum and of the Broncos' decision to declare him the starter right away.

"He's a leader," Sanders said, adding that "98 percent" of his passes so far have been on target. "He's confident in himself. He's one of those guys that when he steps into the huddle, he's that leader.

"You don't have to second-guess what his thought process is. We're going to complete this ball. We're going to keep the ball moving. I'm liking what I'm seeing from him so far."

Sanders and Demaryius Thomas were loath last season to complain about it Jordan Whitehead Color Rush Jersey , but they were clearly affected by the turnstile at quarterback as the Broncos churned through Siemian, Lynch and Brock Osweiler during a 5-11 season.

"You can sit back and say we're all professional football players and you've got to deal with that situation, but at the same time, obviously you can't gain the same chemistry," Sanders said.

"You don't have the same mindset. You have to talk to two different quarterbacks. When you're going into individual routes, you have to go to one guy and then go with the next guy. You don't really gain that chemistry. You're not maximizing the opportunity.

"Now we're maximizing the opportunity, and hopefully it pays off."

The Broncos also added some talent into their wide receiving depth, replacing free agent departures Cody Latimer and Bennie Fowler III with draft picks Courtland Sutton of SMU and DaeSean Hamilton of Penn State.

Sanders, who also played at SMU, worked out with Sutton over the winter and was delighted when the Broncos picked him in the second round.

At 6-4 and 218 pounds, he's built like Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas.

"D.T. is big," Sanders said, but Sutton "looks like he belongs in the NBA. Working out with him, he has amazing feet. He's very fluid for being so big. I'm looking forward to getting him in here and just working. Hopefully he can come up with some big plays for us this year."

At 6-1 and 205 pounds, Hamilton is closer to Sanders' size 鈥?5-11 Youth Ian Thomas Jersey , 180 鈥?but still bigger.

"I'm going to teach those guys everything that I know," Sanders said. "That's my job."

Sanders, who is 31 years old and will make $8.25 million this season, said he's not concerned that the rookies will eventually unseat him.

"That's going to happen sooner or later," Sanders said. "... All I can do is make plays every single day and show that if I become expendable here, just show some other team, hey, look, I still got it. I still got the juice."

NOTES: The Broncos face a Thursday deadline to exercise OLB Shane Ray's fifth-year option at more than $9 million, which seems unlikely given that he's started 15 games in three seasons, missed most of last season with a wrist injury and watched Bradley Chubb fall to Denver with the fifth pick in the last week's NFL draft.

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