One of the perks of being a finalist for the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award are two complimentary Super Bowl tickets.
That’s not a small prize, either.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, whose state is the site of Super Bowl LII, had to pay a hefty $6,000 for his own tickets to the big game.
Now, some finalists for the Payton award have put their complimentary tickets to fantastic use.
New Orleans Saints Pro Bowler Cameron Jordan used his complimentary tickets to send a 108-year old World War II veteran to the Super Bowl.
The veteran seemed genuinely moved by the gesture.
Contrast that to what Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins has opted to do with his Super Bowl tickets.
Jenkins, also a finalist for the Payton award, chose to give his tickets to a man who was just released from a maximum security prison.
Jenkins explained to the New York Daily News why he chose to give his complimentary tickets to Kempis Songster.
“A few weeks ago, I saw an article come across my text that he was getting out, and I wanted to do something special for him,” Jenkins said.
“I didn’t know what, but I knew I wanted to do something to celebrate him coming home.”
Songster, 45, spent 30 years inside of a maximum security prison for a murder he committed when he was 15. He and his accomplice, Dameon Brome, both received life sentences for the murder of a 17-year old in a Philadelphia crack house.
That life sentence was cut short, however, when the Supreme Court ruled two years ago that mandatory life sentences for juveniles were unconstitutional.
Songster was released Dec. 28.
“I know normally, people give those (tickets) to kids or people who may be sick or who are well deserving, but I wanted to have an example that sometimes we can think outside the box and we can listen and hear from one another, so what better platform than the Super Bowl to show those examples?” Jenkins said.
The Eagles star also said he wanted to pick Songster’s brain.
“Because he’s someone I’m going to lean on for insight of what’s going on, who has been through the process, knows what’s going on, how people are being affected,” Jenkins said. “Those are the voices I want to amplify when we talk about trying to change it. You have to be able to engage and Kempis is a great example of that.”
In fairness, Songster served his sentence, and from all indications is a changed man.
The psyche and maturity of a 15-year-old boy and a 45-year-old man are universes apart.
But it’s curious why Jenkins — who raised his fist to protest the national anthem and police brutality for the majority of this season — didn’t consider giving his Super Bowl tickets to someone who has served their country or community.
Why not offer them to police officers who have been working with Jenkins? It would be both an opportunity to pick their brains and offer something akin to an olive branch.
Alas, Jenkins made his choice.
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