PHILADELPHIA -- In an article posted to The Players Tribune on Saturday, Malcolm Jenkins said while everyone says the NFL is "a business," he didn't expect to get emotionally attached to a city.
"Maybe this sounds crazy - but it really does feel like I'm going through a breakup right now," Jenkins said.
"PHILLY. We were together for six years!! You saw me at my best and at my worst. You were always good to me, but more than that you were always real with me. And I will forever love you," Jenkins said.
Malcolm said after signing with the Eagles, he looked to Brian Dawkins' style of play, "was never about flash - he was about substance," to understand Philadelphia.
He recalled his first game on September 7, 2014, when the fans at Lincoln Financial Field booed the team.
He said while other teammates said things like "I can't sand our fans," he laughed.
"I laughed because, internally, I was booing us too! That's Philly, I was thinking. They're going to be tough, but they're going to be fair. And I can't prove it or anything - but I swear it was those boos that inspired us to set our chins and just start swinging back. We ended up winning that game, overcoming a 17-0 deficit.... and by the end of it we had the crowd cheering as loud as you've ever heard anything in your life. I remember looking up into the stands..... and I just started laughing again. How could you not?? That game was Philly fandom in a nutshell. And I knew that I'd love playing for this city from that day forward," Jenkins said.
Jenkins said his favorite moment as an Eagle was when Super Bowl LII ended, he fell to his knees, and "it really began to sink in." He was carrying on his shoulders the hopes of Eagles fans and for citizens who needed their stories of injustice brought to a worldwide stage.
"Both on the field and off, in that moment, it seemed like this was true: The world had told us that we couldn't do something..... so we fought even harder and got it done," Jenkins said.
Jenkins made it clear in January that he wanted a pay raise and wouldn't play in Philadelphia under the current contract. But the three-time Pro Bowler said his legacy is what motivates him, not money.
"Unfortunately, for whatever reason, I wasn't able to ensure that my name would end up on the back of an Eagles jersey this year. But hopefully the legacy that I leave behind will last in the most important way: over time," Jenkins said.
A day after parting ways with the Eagles, Jenkins signed with the New Orleans Saints, the team that drafted him in 2009.
But before he goes to play in the Superdome, he had one last message for Philly fans.
"Thank you to the people of Philadelphia, and by that I mean the community of Philadelphia. You brought me in, challenged my ideas, and gave me a true home. You awakened my political voice and you sharpened it. And - as much as any football team I've ever been on - you taught me the value in being a part of something bigger than myself," he wrote. "Lastly, to y'all Eagles fans: I hope in your hearts that you feel I've done right by you. Thanks for the memories - from one fighter to a whole city of 'em."