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June 21, 2018
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NFL players have a problem with the criminal justice system, and a bunch of presidential pardons won't solve it.

Four current and former players representing the Players Coalition advocacy group challenged President Trump to go beyond pardoning unjustly jailed people in a New York Times op-ed Thursday. Instead, Doug Baldwin, Anquan Boldin, Malcolm Jenkins, and Benjamin Watson are pushing for complete criminal justice reform.

After the Philadelphia Eagles were disinvited from a Super Bowl victory visit to the White House over the league's national anthem kneeling, Trump tried to make a concession. He asked players to send a list of people they thought were unjustly jailed, and he'd pardon them if he agreed.

Clemency can be valuable, like when Trump commuted Alice Johnson's life sentence for a nonviolent drug charge at Kim Kardashian West's behest, the players acknowledged in their op-ed. They suggested that blanket pardon for drug offenders who've already served long sentences could be a good first step.

But truly fixing the justice system means preventing nonviolent offenders from getting life sentences in the first place, and the players say Trump's executive power can make that happen. And if the president chooses not to wield it, then the players will keep using their power as Americans and professional athletes to insist on change. Read the whole op-ed at The New York Times. Kathryn Krawczyk