The Jacksonville Jaguars have nominated defensive tackle Malik Jackson for the NFL’s Salute to Service Award, as he has supported the military throughout his career.
His foundation, Malik’s Gifts, helps military and at-risk youth. He also donated $5,000 to Jacksonville’s Five Star Veterans Center, which provides housing for homeless or unemployed veterans, and hosted Gold Star Wives Day as a tribute to 50 women whose husbands died while defending their country.
Jackson’s reason for doing all of this? It’s simple: it’s the right thing to do.
“I just feel like it’s a blessing to be a blessing,” Jackson said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “What the Lord has been able to provide for me financially, I just wanted to really give back.”
Jackson met a Gold Star family at a holiday party last year. Their story made him want to do more.
“I never knew what a Gold Star family was until I met them,” Jackson said. “Hearing their story and how heartbreaking it is – strong but heartbreaking – I wanted to be able to do something. So I did do a thing for Gold Star families to come and hang out. It’s just being able to give back and let everybody know, especially with what’s going on in the NFL. I think the media is trying to break us up as a people and just as a game. I want to just show everybody that a lot of guys in the NFL are doing great things for the community and for the military. No matter what news may say – and even the President called us out – we’re still, I think, one. I know that we’re one. We want to show that.”
Jackson, as a result of his philanthropic efforts, has spoken with military personnel and their families. They have “mixed thoughts” about player protests.
“Military people feel like that flag represents everything to them,” Jackson said. “To us, we say it represents everything to us. So to me, I say it represents everything to me, too.”
The flag, Jackson explained, should stand for equality and justice. If the county is not living out those ideals, however, protest is important.
“I think now that we’re starting to really get a clear understanding of what Colin Kaepernick was saying when he was starting this whole thing, like he was saying from the beginning, talking about inequality and justice,” Jackson said. “I think we just need to start being more proactive in doing things than just talking about it. That’s what I’m trying to do.”
Jackson is also doing his part on the field. He has 4.0 sacks and two forced fumbles and has led the Jags (6-3) to three straight wins.
Jackson, who won a Super Bowl with the Broncos, signed with the Jags in 2016. He was asked for his perception of Blake Bortles before they became teammates.
“I’ll be completely honest,” Jackson said. “It is what it is like every quarterback I play against: they’re good, but they’re not good enough to beat the defense I’m on. But when you get with him, you understand his qualities and what he can do because you see him every day. I feel like we can win with this guy, with our defense and his offense. I’m not really worried about any other quarterback.”
The Jaguars play the Browns (0-9) in Cleveland this Sunday. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. ET.