It’s no secret that the Eagles are a progressive locker room. Led by Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Long and recently departed Torrey Smith, several Eagles’ players have suggested that they would not accept an invitation to the White House.
It is, of course, customary for the Super Bowl Champions to visit D.C. and have a photo-op with the President. But after Donald Trump called out NFL players like Jenkins for their protest during the National Anthem last season, there was a lot of backlash against the White House in NFL locker rooms. Philadelphia was no exception, as post-game press conferences often included discussions of politics and current events.
And on top of that, players like Long hold concerns about Trump’s affiliation with white supremacists — the kind that he suggested were “good people” after a violent anti-protest in Charlottesville, hometown of Long.
“Who were the fine people on the side of the Nazis and KKK that gathered in my hometown the day a terrorist put 20 people in the hospital?” Long asked. “Why reference the hatred and bigotry on ‘many sides that day’? Why didn’t you immediately denounce them? I already know the answer. None of that is political. I’m not interested in a dialogue with someone who I have to ask those questions of.”
The players who spoke on the topic in the lead up to the Super Bowl seemed pretty set on their decision.
“For me, it’s not just about politics,” Smith said at Super Bowl media day. “If I told you that I was invited to a party by an individual I believe is sexist or has no respect for women or I told you that this individual has said offensive things towards many minority groups.… this individual also called my peers and my friends SOBs, you would understand why I wouldn’t want to go to that party. Why is it any different when the person has title of President of the United States?”
On Monday, the Eagles released the following statement, seemingly implying that the team might actually make the visit:
“We have been in contact with White House representatives and are currently discussing the logistics of an upcoming visit to Washington. We are honored to receive this invitation and view this not only as an opportunity to be recognized for our on-field achievements, but also as an opportunity to engage in productive dialogue with the leaders of our country.”
An official decision will be made sometime soon.