New Eagle Jenkins knows thrill of victory

Posted: July 25, 2014

OF THE 32 NFL teams, 19 have won the Super Bowl. That's 59 percent.

The Eagles, of course, live among the 41 percent that have not. Their last title was in 1960, against Green Bay, when Vince Lombardi was the coach of the Packers and not the namesake of the trophy they are chasing.

Safety Malcolm Jenkins was acquired this offseason to close the most gaping hole in the Eagles' defense. Jenkins doesn't hit like Brian Dawkins and he didn't cost as much as Jairus Byrd. He's had a good NFL career, not spectacular for a former No. 14 overall pick, but solid.

Jenkins is a good citizen, runs football camps for kids, has his own line of bowties and gives straight answers to pointed questions. He also has the one piece of jewelry that has eluded the Birds all these years.

This is the second year in a row the Eagles added a Super Bowl winner to the defensive backfield. Before 2013, the Birds signed Cary Williams, who had just helped the Ravens win the title. This year, it's Jenkins, who was a member of the Saints when they won the 2009 Supe. To be clear, these guys were contributors on their championship teams, not stars.

As it relates to the City of Brotherly Disappointment, Jenkins probably has a clearer understanding of how tortured Eagles fans are. When Williams won his title, it was the Ravens' second in 12 years. When Jenkins won, the Saints had ended more than 4 decades of heartache. He vividly remembers the tears in the stands when the Saints used a field goal in overtime to win the NFC title.

This was a franchise that was so bad for so long, fans wore bags over their heads and called the team the Aints.

"When we were lining up for that winning kick, I thought that this is either the end of my season or that we're headed to the Super Bowl," recalled Jenkins, then a rookie who did not play in the NFC title game because of injury. "When [Garrett Hartley] made that kick, in the Superdome, grown men were crying." Grown men.

Jenkins did make it back onto the field 2 weeks later when the Saints surprised Peyton Manning and the Colts to win Super Bowl 44. When he got into the game, he recalls the quarterback eyeing up the rookie as if he were Thanksgiving dinner.

"I remember the first play I was out there, Peyton Manning was staring right at me," Jenkins told the New York Daily News. "I could tell he was going to throw the ball right at me . . . It was a little nerve-wracking. But a couple of plays in, it ended up being just like any other game. I made a few plays and all the [nervousness] went away."

Jenkins is now in his sixth season and, though he hasn't played a game for the Eagles, is one of the leaders of the secondary. He was drenched in sweat following an OTA workout when the Philadelphia Daily News asked him about reaching the NFL pinnacle. Jenkins grew up in Piscataway, N.J., knows all about the 53-year drought, the NFC East and the giant void in Jeffrey Lurie's trophy case. However . . .

"We don't carry the burden or the sins of the players and teams that came before us," he said. "This is a new era, and we're going to do everything we can to win."


On Twitter: @EdBarkowitz

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