It’s time to say goodbye to two fearless warriors who share the same surname: Leeroy and Malcolm Jenkins (no relation).
One is an an NFL safety you most certainly know, the other is a legendary minion in a digital card game that you likely haver never heard of unless you are Hearthstone junkie, like me.
But make no mistake — both are equally iconic.
Malcolm Jenkins joined the Philadelphia Eagles in 2014, filling the enormous hole left by the departure of the greatest, most beloved Eagle, Brian Dawkins, in 2008. Malcolm was the undisputed leader of the defense for his six years with the team, in which he never missed a game. That includes a franchise-first Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots in 2018 and this massive hit on Brandin Cooks. The team and player agreed this week to part ways with one year left on his deal. The 32-year-old ended up signing with his first team, the New Orleans Saints, but he penned a 1,500-word article for the Players Tribune headlined, “Philly, can we still be friends?”
He recalled the Birds being booed in his first game, when they were trailing 17-0 to Jacksonville on Sept. 7, 2014.
“I remember some teammates saying things like, ‘I can’t stand our fans.’ I had a different response. I 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.”
As for the other less-known (in mainstream circles, at least) Jenkins, well, Blizzard Entertainment this week announced a set of changes for the popular card game Hearthstone. Hardcore Hearthstone fans know that several other “neutral minion” staples, such as Spellbreaker, Acolyte of Pain and Mind-Control Tech, will be the Hall of Fame treatment and be rotated out of Standard mode. In addition, the game creators seem to have finally acknowledged that the Priest hero has always been poorly designed and most of the core cards of the class will also get the boot.
But none of these changes, which go into effect on March 26, are as important as the removal of Leeroy Jenkins. Leeroy is an Internet meme inspired by a now-infamous 2005 World of Warcraft session in which the brave but foolish paladin charges into battle, ruining his comrades’ plans and getting all of them killed.
In Hearthstone, Leeroy was one of a kind. A fairly cheap (five mana) six-damage “charge” minion, meaning he could attack as soon as he enters the battlefield. Leeroy was so good he was a staple for six years even after getting nerfed in Sept. 2014, about the same time Malcolm Jenkins was making his Eagles debut.
Blizzard upped Leeroy’s mana cost from four to five, and some heralded this as an end to Leeroy. But Leeroy was still the best finisher in the game, and remained a staple of aggressive decks right up until he got his walking papers from the game’s creators.
Now he’s gone, and it’s probably about time, but that doesn’t mean we can’t mourn the card’s passing. Leeroy was a meme and man for his time, a symbol of the most American of traits: recklessness in the face of imminent overwhelming danger. He was the fool who rushed in. Sorta like #CoronaKatie, the 30-year-old Las Vegas former beauty pageant queen who said, “I’m American and I do what I want,” when more cautious types were self-quarantining.
In a COVID-19 world, it’s probably best we find new memes anyway.
Still friends, though, as Malcolm asked Philly fans? In my book, both Leeroy and Malcolm will always be family.