In another public rebuke of President Donald Trump’s policies, several members of Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles have said they will not visit the White House.
Wide receiver Torrey Smith, defensive end Chris Long and safety Malcolm Jenkins have all said they won’t be going, according to NJ.com.
Appearing on CNN’s “New Day” on Monday, Jenkins said that he does “not anticipate” attending the White House celebration.
“My message has been clear all year,” Jenkins said. “I’m about, you know, 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,” he continued. “I want to see us push for … [economic] and educational advancement in communities of color and low-income communities. And I want to see our relationships between our communities and our law enforcement be advanced.”
In recent months, Trump has urged the league to fire or suspend players who took a knee during the national anthem in order protest racial inequality and police brutality.
“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, he’s fired?’” Trump said during a speech in Alabama in September.
After Trump’s speech, more players began kneeling during the national anthem. He continued to slam their actions on Twitter and in speeches, and even raised the issue ― without mentioning the NFL specifically ― during his State of the Union address.
But players insist that they’re demonstrating to bring attention to important issues, not to disrespect the flag or the anthem.
“They call it the anthem protest,” Smith told 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.”
Long made his intentions clear in a podcast interview last week.
“No, I’m not going to the White House,” he told the “Pardon My Take” podcast. “Are you kidding me?”
Long was on the Super Bowl-winning New England Patriots last season and was among several players who declined the White House visit.
Eagles running back LeGarrette Blount also skipped the visit last year when he was a member of the Patriots.
“I just don’t feel welcome into that house,” Blount said at the time. “I’m just gonna leave it at that.”
Last year Trump withdrew his White House invitation to the NBA champion Golden State Warriors after two-time MVP Steph Curry said he didn’t want to go.
Philadelphia Eagles safety and Super Bowl champion Malcolm Jenkins says, “I personally do not anticipate attending (a victory event at the White House)” https://t.co/y3iENKNvfu pic.twitter.com/kLZa2Wq2Vr
— New Day (@NewDay) February 5, 2018