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Book Review: What Winner’s Won’t Tell You by Malcolm Jenkins

What Winner’s Won’t Tell You is a memoir from one of the most beloved New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles of all time. Malcolm Jenkins is not only a two-time Super Bowl champion and three-time Pro Bowler but he is far more as a human being. 

Jenkins was a premier defensive back during his time in the NFL, but his contributions to the communities he impacted will forever be greater than his play on the field. 

Jenkins also left his footprints as a racial justice advocate and stood for what he believed even with all the controversy going on in the NFL at the time. 

Malcolm Jenkins breaks up a pass intended for Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald

In the Book

In his first-ever book, future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady was asked to write his foreword. Brady speaks on not only playing Jenkins in Super Bowl LII but also his work off the field as a co-founder in the Players Coalition.

Jenkins began his book-writing journey during the 2021-22 training camp of his last season in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints. 

His story was pushed into motion after he wrote a 50-page book proposal to his editor. 

Most people view NFL players and athletes simply as that, just athletes. However, Jenkins goes into a deep dive to disprove that narrative. 

Jenkins talks about his time as a kid growing up in Piscataway, New Jersey and almost falling into the gang life like his best friend did.

He also talked about the process of going to Ohio State in 2005. In those years at Columbus, Jenkins grew as a player and a person off the field. He joined the prestigious Omega Psi Phi fraternity, where he became “hit”, in other words, branded on his left arm twice and on his chest.

The New Jersey native was also close with God as he attended weekly Bible studies.

All while talking about his early life and college endeavors, Jenkins goes back and forth talking about the football side of his life.

In the 2007 NFL Draft Jenkins was drafted in the first round (14th overall) by the New Orleans Saints. 

In this book, Jenkins shows how hard the NFL life is especially as a rookie. 

He had ups and downs as he struggled to get playing time, thought he wasn’t good enough then having a “Welcome to the NFL” moment from Hall of Famer, Calvin Johnson then to finished the season winning Super Bowl XLIII.

As his career went he spent five seasons in New Orleans with head coach Sean Payton and Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees. He then decided to test free agency and ended up becoming a Philadelphia Eagle. 

A city where the fans will always let you know if you’re playing good but if you’re playing bad, it gets a million times louder. 

Jenkins goes into detail about his experiences in Philly and also his involvement in standing up against police brutality. 

It was a huge conversation in 2016 when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the National Anthem in their last preseason game.

Obviously, it became national news which led to it becoming a movement. 

Jenkins was at the forefront of creating change even through the hardships it came with and even players who he thought were on his side were not in the end. 

In the 2017-18 season, Jenkins helped lead the Eagles to their franchises’ first-ever Super Bowl win. 

“Tears welling up in my eyes, I dropped to my knees and started laughing. I couldn’t do anything else but just yell out loud. ‘We were all we needed’”

Malcolm Jenkins lights up Patriots’ Brandin Cooks in Super Bowl LII

In the back end of his memoir, Jenkins talks about traveling to the Cape Coast region of Ghana a few months after the Super Bowl win. Encouraging others to visit “at least once” due to the deep connection to the African American Experience. 

Jenkins then talks about his last few years in the NFL as he decided to return to New Orleans where it started for his last two seasons. 

In 2021, Jenkins started contemplating retirement due to his daughters Elle and Selah. Going through a divorce, he got to see his kids less and wanted to be with them more. That led to Jenkins walking away from the game.

My Thoughts

This book is more than a football player telling how his career in the NFL went. Readers get to see how much players go through on and off the field. 

I think it’s inspiring to see someone work so hard to reach their goals while having numerous distractions and other uncontrollable factors try to knock them off track. 

In my opinion, more NFL players and athletes in general should write memoirs so fans can see how much they go through. They have lives outside of the sport they get paid to play.

I respect Jenkins for going in-depth with sensitive subjects and how he handled them.

In chapter 11 specifically, Jenkins talked about his suicidal thoughts during the 2017 season. His marriage was going left, received death threats due to protests, got painted as a sellout for his involvement with the Players Coalition all while trying to lead the Eagles on the field.

“No matter what I attempted to do right, shit just seemed to consistently go left.”

Jenkins decided to get help from a psychologist and in the end everything worked out.

Personally, I know everyone goes through their own struggles but not everyone can let the world know about them.

Jenkins put what he went through in this book and I think that speaks volumes to what kind of man he is. If I had to pick one specific part of the book that really stuck with me it was certainly chapter 11.

Overall, “What Winners Won’t Tell You” is a must-read for football fans and anyone who wants to see what an NFL legend goes through in their career on and off the field. 


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