Several team members of the Philadelphia Eagles, winners of Sunday night’s Super Bowl LII, said they would not attend the traditional White House visit for NFL champions.
Safety Malcolm Jenkins, wide receiver Torrey Smith and defensive end Chris Long will pass on the invitation to meet President Donald Trump.
“Nah, I personally do not anticipate attending that,” Jenkins told CNN’s “New Day” on Monday.
“My message has been clear all year. I’m about creating positive change in the communities that I come from, whether it be Philadelphia, New Jersey, Ohio, Louisiana, or this entire country.
“I want to see changes in our criminal justice system. I want to see us push for economic and educational advancement in communities of color and low-income communities.”
Both Jenkins and Smith raised their fists during the national anthem this past season to show solidarity with the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
“We read the news just like everyone else,” Smith said Wednesday, according to NJ.com. “You see Donald Trump tweet something … We have those conversations in the locker room, just like everyone else does in the workplace.
“We’re very informed about what goes on, and we’re trying to continue to educate ourselves.
“I’m not saying we’re right about everything, but we’re willing to figure out what is right. We’re willing to work with people to find the best way to move forward, because there are problems and we’re not shy about speaking up about them.”
More than 200 players joined in solidarity Sunday to protest Trump’s assault on their right to protest racial injustices.
In Tuesday’s State of the Union address, Trump took a dig at NFL players who’ve kneeled during the national anthem to protest police brutality.
Throughout 2017, the president continually pressed NFL owners to fire the predominantly Black players who silently protested.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now,’” Trump said during a rally in Alabama in September. “Out! He’s fired.”
In response to Trump’s comments, Jenkins tweeted, “Proud of NFL and players advocating free speech, liberty and justice for all.”
— Malcolm Jenkins (@MalcolmJenkins) September 24, 2017
Smith said that it wasn’t a national anthem protest.
“They call it the anthem protest,” he said, according to NJ.com. “We’re not protesting the anthem. It’s a protest during the anthem. I understand why people are mad, or may be offended when someone takes a knee.”
Last year, Long was a member of the New England Patriots’ winning Super Bowl team. This year, as a member of the Eagles, he will again skip the White House visit.
“No, I’m not going to the White House,” Long said on the “Pardon My Take” podcast in January. “Are you kidding me?”
Ahead of the game on Sunday, Trump released a statement citing why Americans “proudly stand for the national anthem.”