At least three Philadelphia Eagles players already announced they won’t go to the White House to be honored for winning the Super Bowl.
President Donald Trump is expected to invite the Eagles to the White House after their win Sunday night, but wide receiver Torrey Smith, defensive end Chris Long, and safety Malcolm Jenkins said they will refuse Trump’s invitation, according to NJ.com. The players’ opposition comes after a year of strife between the NFL and the Trump administration over the rash of protests during the pre-game national anthem. Kellyanne Conway says the administration will simply invite veterans to replace any Eagles players who to skip out on President Trump’s invite.
Trump has been extremely vocal with his distaste for players kneeling during the national anthem throughout 2017. He also released a statement before the Super Bowl urging players to stand. All three players raised their fists in solidarity with Black Lives Matter during Sunday’s game.
“Though many of our nation’s service members are unable to be home with family and friends to enjoy this evening’s American tradition, they are always in our thoughts and prayers,” Trump’s statement read. “We owe these heroes the greatest respect for defending our liberty and our American way of life. Their sacrifice is stitched into each star and every stripe of our Star-Spangled Banner. We hold them in our hearts and thank them for our freedom as we proudly stand for the national anthem.”
Jenkins’ refusal is the least surprising, as he was a central figure in the anthem protests throughout 2017 and was a founder of the Players’ Coalition (PC). The PC held months-long negotiations with the NFL, eventually convincing the league to pledge $89 million in donations to black American and social justice causes.
Long’s refusal marks the second time he’s rejected Trump’s invite, as he also won the 2017 Super Bowl as a member of the Patriots. He emphatically promised to skip out this year as well on an episode of Pardon Take My Podcast.
“No,” Long said. “I’m not going to the White House. Are you kidding me?”
Smith and others contend they mean no disrespect to the anthem or the flag during their protests. Instead, they just say they are trying to improve the country.