The topic was mental health. Michelle Obama, addressing a crowd of more than 50 first-generation college-bound students at her annual Beating the Odds Summit at Howard University on Tuesday, looked over at Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins as she finished her point and signaled for him to take the floor.
“I know for me, mental health wasn’t anything we talked about when I was in school. But … I am in therapy once a week at this point in my life because I recognize that I’m somebody who’s responsible for a lot of things and I put a lot of pressure on myself, and so with that comes stress and a little anxiety,” he said.
“A lot of you, if you’re a first-generation college student, you’re the first one to do it, you feel like your family is counting on you, depending on you, you have these outside pressures that are on top of being a college student, you have to find ways to recognize that and deal with that in a healthy manner.”
This is how Jenkins spent his final day before the start of the Eagles’ training camp: A chair over from the former First Lady, speaking to a group that had overcome everything from homelessness to special needs to be in a position to receive a post-secondary education. Tuesday’s workshop was designed to equip the students with strategies to ensure they see things through, and Jenkins was called on to help in that messaging.
“For me, that was an easy yes,” Jenkins said.
The Players Coalition, co-founded by Jenkins, has supported Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative before. In May, coalition members including Anquan Boldin, Demario Davis and Josh Norman traveled to California for its college signing event.
A first-generation student herself, Obama started the Reach Higher Initiative during her time in the White House. According to stats provided by Obama’s camp, students from the bottom income quartile have a nine percent six-year college graduation rate, compared to a 73 percent graduation rate for students from the upper-income quartile. In some communities, as many as 40 percent of students who are accepted to college never make it there, for reasons that include financial burden and fear of leaving home.
“Every single one of you here had to get over some deep, dark obstacle, whether it was in your own mind or something that was real that was going on in your lives and that has given you the strength to do what you have to do next,” Obama said. “So I just want you to know: You can do this. You belong here. This was not a mistake.”
The Players Coalition has three main areas of focus: Criminal justice reform, community and police relations and education and economical advancement. Much of the effort since the coalition’s inception in 2017 has gone towards criminal justice reform. They are beginning to ramp up the other two pillars of the operation.
“We’ve already shifted some of that [focus] already. … We’ve started to roll out a little bit more in that area and will also be rolling out some campaigns around policing this fall,” Jenkins said. “We’re still growing in the development of all of these focus areas.”
The focus on the educational side was on display Tuesday, as Jenkins offered some advice to the students that Obama’s event had gathered.
“Allow yourself to grow. Allow yourself to grow into whoever it is you’re going to become. College is not the end goal, it is just a process,” he said. “So there is going to be plenty of times when you fail. You might meet some confusion. You may change majors. Whatever it is, you might take some time to figure out what you really want to do. Your beliefs may change as your experiences change. But treat college as just that: An opportunity to learn and grow as an individual and really find your own purpose.”
Patriots re-sign veteran kicker Nick Folk after appendectomy
The move was expected after the Patriots waived Kai Forbath on Monday and were left with no kickers on the roster.
Forbath was signed to replace Folk, who had an appendectomy last week. In Sunday’s loss to the Houston Texans, Forbath went 1-for-2 on extra points and made a 23-yarder on his only field goal attempt.
Folk, who was released after having the procedure, had a locker still set up in the Patriots’ facility, and the expectation was that he could return to the team later in the season. The 12th-year player has made 7 of 9 field goals (77.8%) in three games for the Patriots and is 3-for-3 on extra point attempts.
Forbath was New England’s fourth kicker of the season. Stephen Gostkowski, who was in his 14th season with the Patriots, was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Oct. 2 and had surgery for a left hip injury.
The Patriots first signed Mike Nugent to take Gostkowski’s place, but he was ineffective, missing 3 of 8 field goal attempts and one PAT in four games. Nugent was released Oct. 29 and the Patriots brought in Folk.
New England waived defensive tackle Albert Huggins to make room to sign Folk.
Jets RB Le’Veon Bell ill, won’t play vs. Dolphins
Bell became ill this week, the team said, and he didn’t practice Thursday and Friday, when he was listed as questionable. Coach Adam Gase didn’t give any specifics as to the nature of the illness.
“He’s sick, probably the same thing that is going around a lot of these other teams,” Gase said. “[The] biggest thing was getting him checked out and then get him out of the building so nobody else gets sick.”
This will be Bell’s first missed game with the Jets. He had been durable, if not productive. Statistically, this has been the worst season of his career, as he’s rushed for only 589 yards, three touchdowns and a career-low 3.2 average.
Last week was particularly frustrating for Bell, who had only 10 carries in a 22-6 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Bell signed a four-year, $52.5 million contract in free agency. He drew interest at the trading deadline, and there’s a chance the Jets could move him in the offseason.
Lions fined $110,000 for not updating Matthew Stafford’s status
MINNEAPOLIS — The Detroit Lions and members of its football operations were fined $110,000 total for not properly updating the injury status of quarterback Matthew Stafford before the Nov. 10 game against the Chicago Bears — the first game Stafford missed since the start of the 2011 season.
The NFL fined the Lions as an organization $75,000, along with head coach Matt Patricia $25,000 and general manager Bob Quinn $10,000, for the way they handled Stafford on the injury report. Stafford had fractured bones in his back in the loss to Oakland on Nov. 3 and while he practiced all week, he was listed as questionable on the Friday injury report ahead of the game against the Bears.
Detroit never updated Stafford’s status to being out, even though by Saturday he was being labeled by reports as a game-time decision and then ruled out Sunday morning. Multiple players then told ESPN and other outlets they were informed Saturday that Stafford would not be able to play, leading to more questions about how the franchise handled the reporting of Stafford’s injury.
After Detroit’s loss to Chicago, Patricia said “it was unsafe” for Stafford to play but declined to get into specifics about the timeline at the time — a timeline that remained murky in the days after the game as questions persisted about the timing of the injury.
On Monday, the day after the game, he offered a little more clarity, including saying he told the team Saturday night to prepare for all options.
“I would say the timeline for us was when we got to Chicago late Saturday night, got done with meetings, I think at that point in time that I just knew he wouldn’t start,” Patricia said. “And out of respect for him and everything that he’s done for this organization, I just wanted to leave the option open when we got to Sunday if he wanted to dress.”
The NFL policy states that, “if, prior to the team’s arrival at the stadium on game day, an event occurs that causes the club to decide that a player will not start or will not play, the club must update its Game Status Report.”
The Lions never updated the status of Stafford. Stafford has not practiced or played since that time and Patricia said earlier this week they have not put Stafford on injured reserve out of respect for him and his toughness. Stafford said if he is able, he would still like to play in 2019.
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