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Eagles’ Jenkins talks mental health at summit

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The topic was mental health. Michelle Obama, addressing a crowd of more than 50 first-generation college-bound students at her annual Beating the Odds Summit at Howard University on Tuesday, looked over at Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins as she finished her point and signaled for him to take the floor.

“I know for me, mental health wasn’t anything we talked about when I was in school. But … I am in therapy once a week at this point in my life because I recognize that I’m somebody who’s responsible for a lot of things and I put a lot of pressure on myself, and so with that comes stress and a little anxiety,” he said.

“A lot of you, if you’re a first-generation college student, you’re the first one to do it, you feel like your family is counting on you, depending on you, you have these outside pressures that are on top of being a college student, you have to find ways to recognize that and deal with that in a healthy manner.”

This is how Jenkins spent his final day before the start of the Eagles’ training camp: A chair over from the former First Lady, speaking to a group that had overcome everything from homelessness to special needs to be in a position to receive a post-secondary education. Tuesday’s workshop was designed to equip the students with strategies to ensure they see things through, and Jenkins was called on to help in that messaging.

“For me, that was an easy yes,” Jenkins said.

The Players Coalition, co-founded by Jenkins, has supported Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative before. In May, coalition members including Anquan Boldin, Demario Davis and Josh Norman traveled to California for its college signing event.

A first-generation student herself, Obama started the Reach Higher Initiative during her time in the White House. According to stats provided by Obama’s camp, students from the bottom income quartile have a nine percent six-year college graduation rate, compared to a 73 percent graduation rate for students from the upper-income quartile. In some communities, as many as 40 percent of students who are accepted to college never make it there, for reasons that include financial burden and fear of leaving home.

“Every single one of you here had to get over some deep, dark obstacle, whether it was in your own mind or something that was real that was going on in your lives and that has given you the strength to do what you have to do next,” Obama said. “So I just want you to know: You can do this. You belong here. This was not a mistake.”

The Players Coalition has three main areas of focus: Criminal justice reform, community and police relations and education and economical advancement. Much of the effort since the coalition’s inception in 2017 has gone towards criminal justice reform. They are beginning to ramp up the other two pillars of the operation.

“We’ve already shifted some of that [focus] already. … We’ve started to roll out a little bit more in that area and will also be rolling out some campaigns around policing this fall,” Jenkins said. “We’re still growing in the development of all of these focus areas.”

The focus on the educational side was on display Tuesday, as Jenkins offered some advice to the students that Obama’s event had gathered.

“Allow yourself to grow. Allow yourself to grow into whoever it is you’re going to become. College is not the end goal, it is just a process,” he said. “So there is going to be plenty of times when you fail. You might meet some confusion. You may change majors. Whatever it is, you might take some time to figure out what you really want to do. Your beliefs may change as your experiences change. But treat college as just that: An opportunity to learn and grow as an individual and really find your own purpose.”

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Mike Ditka, Rob Gronkowski and Gene Upshaw make NFL’s All-Time Team

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Hall of Fame tight ends Mike Ditka, Kellen Winslow, John Mackey and Tony Gonzalez have been selected to the NFL’s All-Time Team.

Joining them on the squad is recent retiree Rob Gronkowski.

The league revealed the tight ends and offensive linemen for the squad on Friday night. A 26-member panel is making the selections as part of the NFL’s celebration of its centennial season.

Tackles on the team are Hall of Famers Anthony Munoz, Forrest Gregg, Art Shell, Roosevelt Brown, Jonathan Ogden, Cal Hubbard and Walter Jones.

The guards are Jim Parker, John Hannah, Larry Allen, Gene Upshaw, Dan Fortmann, Randall McDaniel and Bruce Matthews. Again, all are enshrined in Canton, Ohio.

At center, players chosen include Mike Webster, Dwight Stephenson, Jim Otto and Mel Hein, all Hall of Famers.

Indeed, Gronk, who won’t be eligible for another four years, is the only non-Hall of Famer selected.

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Seahawks rule out Jadeveon Clowney vs. Panthers

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RENTON, Wash. — The Seattle Seahawks have ruled out defensive end Jadeveon Clowney for Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers.

Already dealing with a core-muscle injury since Week 10, Clowney missed practice Wednesday and Thursday with an illness and returned Friday as a limited participant. The team initially listed him as questionable before downgrading him to out.

The Seahawks (10-3) could be down a pair of pass-rushers against the Panthers (5-8). Ezekiel Ansah, who missed the Seahawks’ Sunday night loss to the Rams with a neck injury, is questionable to play at Carolina and will be a game-time decision.

Cornerback Shaquill Griffin (hamstring) and tight end Luke Willson (hamstring) are also questionable and will be game-time decisions.

With Mychal Kendricks (hamstring) out again, rookie third-round pick Cody Barton will make his second straight start at strongside linebacker.

Prior to Clowney being ruled out, coach Pete Carroll said the defensive end had been “pretty sick” this week but sounded hopeful he’d be OK by Sunday. Several Seahawks players have gotten sick since the week of Thanksgiving.

Clowney is tied for the team lead with three sacks this season and ranks fifth in the NFL in ESPN’s pass rush win rate at 25.1%. He missed the team’s win over Philadelphia in Week 12 because of his core-muscle injury, which is something he said he’ll have to manage for the remainder of the season after deciding to put off surgery.

Wide receiver Tyler Lockett (shin) was listed as a full participant Wednesday and Thursday.

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Dolphins sign WR DeVante Parker to 4-year contract extension

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DAVIE, Fla. — The Miami Dolphins have signed receiver DeVante Parker to a four-year extension through the 2023 season, the team announced Friday evening.

Parker’s four-extension is worth up to $40 million with an $8 million signing bonus and more than $20 million guaranteed, according to a source.

In his fifth year in the league, Parker is in the midst of his breakout season. He has a career-high 882 receiving yards and six touchdowns this season, and maybe most importantly he hasn’t missed a game yet for the first time in his NFL career.

“My desire was to have DeVante remain a member of the Dolphin family and we are excited for the future in Miami,” agent Jimmy Gould said in a statement.

The Dolphins’ offense has centered around Parker since Preston Williams went on injured reserve in early November. Parker has established a strong connection with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has called him the “most consistent part of our offense.”

Playing 16 games and reaching 1,000 receiving yards were two of Parker’s individual goals this season. Parker is 118 receiving yards shy of his first 1,000-yard season, something that is important to him.

“It would be amazing to get it. I’ve never had it since high school,” Parker said. “The team is No. 1, but everybody has goals, and that definitely is one of mine.”

In March, Parker signed a new two-year deal with a team option for 2020. It was essentially a prove-it deal coming off the worst season of his career in 2018. He responded by taking care of his body with better eating and hydration, acupuncture and weekly massages.

The Dolphins’ coaching staff, led by Brian Flores, gave Parker a clean slate. Receivers coach Karl Dorrell told him stories of his experience with Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall and challenged Parker to be the player he was coming out of Louisville.

Parker did that, and he’s felt more comfortable than ever in the Dolphins’ new scheme.

“Staying healthy was my top goal,” Parker told ESPN last week. “That has helped change everything. These coaches believed in me. They gave me a second chance when they didn’t have to. I hope I can be here a long time.”

Parker, Miami’s first-round pick in 2015 (14th overall), is rewriting his narrative after four seasons full of injuries and inconsistency. He’s finally showing the potential that made him so tantalizing and the Dolphins rewarded him for it.

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