All season, the Eagles proved to be one of the NFL’s most principled teams, as well as the best at playing football.
That should end for good the idea that players being a “distraction” are bad for the team on the field, but it could also create another story in the weeks to come.
In the aftermath of their Super Bowl win, a number of Eagles players are holding firm and saying they won’t make an appearance at any potential congratulatory trip to the White House.
Via Rob Torone of Philly.com, a few of players mentioned it, along with some who previously said they wouldn’t appear with President Donald Trump.
Safety Malcolm Jenkins said during an interview on CNN Monday that he’d skip it, to remain true to the causes of racial inequality he’s protested in the past.
“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,” Jenkins said. “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.”
Trump made himself a conversation early last season for turning protests during the national anthem into a political football, firing up his crowd by calling out owners (the same ones who wouldn’t let him in their club): “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. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!”
That caused a brief wave of more players protesting, but Eagles wideout Torrey Smith said it confused the issue as well.
Wide receiver Torrey Smith said before the game he wouldn’t go, and responded to critics on Trump’s favorite medium afterward.
Trump congratulated the Eagles on Twitter shortly after the game, but there’s no way of knowing whether the invitation will actually come. After the Golden State Warriors said they didn’t want to go, Trump rescinded their invitation, making it reasonable to wonder whether the Eagles will be invited at all.