Jerry Lai/USA Today Sports

Devin McCourty asks Trump to implement real criminal justice reform instead of issuing pardons

Alex Reimer
June 22, 2018 - 12:45 pm

NFL players are asking Donald Trump to actually implement real reform to the justice system instead of issuing out isolated pardons. 

Good for them. 

Earlier this month, Trump, who’s spent months demonizing black NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice, said he’ll ask his political punching bags to recommend people for clemency. Members of the Players’ Coalition –– Malcolm Jenkins, Doug Baldwin, Anquan Boldin and Benjamin Watson –– rejected Trump’s offer this week, writing in the New York Times they want to see more comprehensive solutions. 

Patriots safety Devin McCourty agrees. On Twitter, he shared the op-ed with the following message: “Currently over half of the women & men sentenced to die in federal prison are for non-violent offenses. Mr. President, please use your voice to promote a proactive policy to end life without parole for non-violent offenses,” he wrote.

This week, McCourty was one of three Patriots players who moderated a debate between the five candidates vying to be Suffolk County District Attorney. Matthew Slater and Jason McCourty joined him. The forum was part of the "Launching Justice: Conversations with District Attorney Candidates” series organized by the NFL’s Players’ Coalition. 

"The anthem had its role," Devin McCourty told NPR. "But I think, if we just took a knee every Sunday and we did that for five years, would anything change in the communities? I don't think so. I think this is the focus.”

The crop of protesting NFL players have backed up their words with actions. Colin Kaepernick donated $1 million to community organizations last year and launched his own initiative, the “Know Your Rights Camp.” 

As evidenced by McCourty’s work, socially outspoken NFL players are trying to find concrete ways to improve systematic oppression. In that respect, Trump’s pardon offer is superficial. It generates the positive headlines he craves from our sheep-like media, but doesn’t solve any problems. Freeing Alice Johnson after Kim Kardashian's lobbying is nice, but nothing is prohibiting the next Alice Johnson from winding up behind bars for too long. 

McCourty and his peers aren’t taking the easy bait. They’re holding out for something real. 

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