Malcolm Jenkins doesn't have a problem with being the spokesman for Chip Kelly every time a black player who has left the Eagles makes comments that imply the coach is a racist.
After Brandon Boykin tossed more daggers at Kelly on his way out the door Sunday, it was once again left to Jenkins to defend his coach, and negate the perception that Kelly at the least can't relate to a segment of the locker room.
And while Jenkins wears his leadership badge with honor, there's irony in his being the chosen one, because he doesn't always agree with Kelly and is not afraid to tell him.
"I feel like I have a pretty strong personality. I'm very outspoken on what I like and don't like," Jenkins said. "But I know for a fact Chip likes uniformity and it's not necessarily a bad thing. It's not about personality or race or whatever. It's just about the team.
"And so, sometimes that means you can't have as much swagger as you want to as far as the way you dress. But it's also the mentality that no player is bigger than anybody and no player is bigger than the team, and I can buy into that."
In other words, Jenkins believes that he hasn't sacrificed his individuality for a greater cause. And the opening of training camp, perhaps more than any other day on the NFL calendar, was supposed to mark the beginning of that journey.
Unfortunately for the team, Boykin's comments overshadowed a first day that was supposed to be free of drama. But when a third former member of the team publicly questioned Kelly's motivations in reference to race or culture, the topic deserves commentary.
If only Boykin had expressed his concerns during his 21/2 years with Kelly rather than the day after he was traded to the Steelers. In his defense, it isn't easy to call out your boss when your contract isn't guaranteed.
"The truth is Chip is uncomfortable around grown men of our culture," Boykin said in a text message to Comcast SportsNet. "He can't relate, and that makes him uncomfortable. He likes total control of everything, and he don't like to be uncomfortable.
"Players excel when you let them naturally be who they are, and in my experience that hasn't been important to him, but you guys have heard this before me."
There was no further context provided by Boykin in the report, but when he arrived at the Steelers' camp he told the NFL Network that he didn't think Kelly was "a racist at all."
"When you are a player, you want to be able to relate to your coach outside of football," Boykin said. "There were times he just wouldn't talk to people. You would walk down the hallway, he wouldn't say anything to you."
Boykin made it no secret that he wasn't happy not starting here or, in his eyes, not being given a fair opportunity to compete as an outside cornerback. Kelly prefers long and rangy corners, and the 5-foot-10 Boykin, who predated his arrival, didn't fit the mold.
But he was among the best slot corners in the NFL. Kelly said the Eagles' depth at the position made Boykin expendable, but the options inside are young. Rookie JaCorey Shepherd has the early inside track, but he's an unknown commodity. Losing Boykin doesn't make the Eagles better right now.
Kelly said that he was surprised by Boykin's initial comments. He said that the cornerback was "stunned" when he was told of the trade on Saturday night. But when they said their goodbyes, Kelly said, "he shook my hand, gave me a hug. Didn't say anything."
Jenkins said there is always an opportunity for players to talk with Kelly and to express any misgivings they may have about an issue. He said there's always been an open-door policy.
"Now what Chip doesn't want is for something to happen that you don't like and you cause a big scene in front of the team," Jenkins said. "I don't think any coach wants that - to have their authority tried in front of the team. Not that that happens here.
"As long as you do it in a respectful way that is conducive to making the team better, I don't think Chip has a problem with anything."
Somehow race has been tossed into the narrative, but it's been there under the surface since Kelly kept Riley Cooper two years ago. Recent comments have only fanned the flames.
First it was former coaching intern and Eagles tackle Tra Thomas, who said some players thought there was a "hint of racism" in how Kelly ran the team. And then there was LeSean McCoy, who said that Kelly got rid of "all the good black players."
Jenkins and others have said those accusations were off base. Boykin appeared to distance himself from his initial comments that suggested racism, but the perception - fair or not - exists. Kelly said he is concerned only about the players on his team.
But the Eagles turned down offers for Boykin for months. He could have just as easily stayed. Could there be others who feel the same way? Quarterback Mark Sanchez said several players were discussing the issue during the start of practice.
"Guys were like, 'Sanchez, ain't you Mexican? [Sam] Bradford, aren't you like Native American? And Kiko [Alonso's] Colombian,'" Sanchez said. "We got black guys, white guys, Polynesian guys. Come on. That's crazy. It's not even worth talking."
The argument that Kelly isn't a racist because he acquires black players doesn't mean Kelly isn't a racist, or more to Boykin's point, that he doesn't relate well to certain players. But it seems unfathomable that he could have gotten this far in this business with those tendencies.
If anything, Kelly has trouble relating to people, in general - or more accurately, they have trouble relating to him. He is idiocyncratic and doesn't suffer fools. But when it comes to his team, he wants conformity. He's a stickler for it.
And if he wins, the players will walk in line. If he doesn't, they'll just walk.