Fresh from winning their first ever Super Bowl in franchise history, several Philadelphia Eagles players have vowed to skip the traditional congratulatory White House visit because of President Donald Trump.
Eagles players Malcolm Jenkins, Torrey Smith and Chris Long have cited the President’s long-standing feud with NFL players over “Black Lives Matter” protests during the national anthem earlier in the season.
“Nah, I personally do not anticipate attending,” Jenkins told CNN on Monday night (local time).
“I don’t have a message for the President. My message has been clear all year, I am all about creating positive change in the community where I come from. Whether that be Philadelphia, New Jersey, Ohio, Louisiana or this entire country.
“I want to see changes to our criminal justice system, I want to see us push for economic and educational advancement in communities of colour and low-income communities and I want to see our relationship between our communities and law-enforcement advance.”
It comes after Mr Trump released a statement on Super Bowl Sunday, urging players to “proudly stand for the anthem”, and congratulated the Eagles on their victory.
Congratulations to the Philadelphia Eagles on a great Super Bowl victory!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 5, 2018
Last September, Mr Trump said NFL owners should fire players who protest during the national anthem.
“We read the news just like everyone else,” Smith said on Wednesday.
“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.”
“They call it the anthem protest. 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. My father, when he dies, is going to be buried with an American flag draped around his casket, being that he served in the Army.”
Eagles player Chris Long, who skipped last year’s White House visit when he played for 2017 champions the New England Patriots, also won’t attend.
“No, I’m not going to the White House. Are you kidding me?” he said in an interview on Pardon My Take podcast last Sunday according to CNN.
The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New England Patriots 41-33 to become Super Bowl champions for the first time in franchise history.