Three months ago, the Philadelphia Eagles won it all at Super Bowl LII, defeating the New England Patriots, 41-33 and becoming first-time Super Bowl champions. Like many championship-winning teams, the Eagles will be heading to the White House for a visit with the president of the United States, but not everyone on the team will be present during this customary visit, which is scheduled to take place on June 5.
As a member of the Patriots team that came from behind to beat the Atlanta Falcons last year at Super Bowl LI, defensive end Chris Long and running back LeGarrette Blount were among several New England players who turned down their White House invitations. It’s not clear whether Blount will choose to stay home for this year’s visit, but Fox News wrote that Long decided, even before the Eagles’ Super Bowl win, that he won’t be visiting the White House. These sentiments remained when Long recently spoke with Chris Simms and Adam Lefkoe on their Bleacher Report podcast, as quoted by Real Clear Life.
“At end of the day I do not want to sit, take a picture with somebody I don’t care for.”
Safety Malcolm Jenkins was also listed by Fox News among the Philadelphia Eagles players who won’t be at the White House on June 5, with Real Clear Life referring to him as another “outspoken” critic of President Trump in a similar vein to Long. In an interview with WTXF-TV quoted by Fox News, Jenkins said that he is among those players who are “passionate about not going” to the White House, though he stressed that he doesn’t want to stop any of his teammates who want to take the trip.
Like Long, wide receiver Torrey Smith made his decision not to visit the White House public even before the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl. As quoted by NJ.com shortly before Super Bowl LII, Smith said that NFL players, in general, are aware of news and current events and constantly try to “educate [themselves]” by paying attention to what’s going on around them.
“It’s pretty special to have a group like that of folks that aren’t just socially conscious, but folks who genuinely care about people and care about learning more,” said Smith, who was traded in March to the Carolina Panthers.
As it isn’t mandatory for members of a championship sports team to accept a presidential invitation to the White House, Trump was criticized by athletes and fans alike when he uninvited the NBA championship-winning Golden State Warriors after star guard Stephen Curry “hesitated” to accept the invitation. According to the Los Angeles Times, Trump’s Twitter post withdrawing the invitation specifically earned the ire of LeBron James, as the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar called Trump a “bum” and said that it was a “great honor” indeed to go to the White House until he became president.