For years, visiting the White House after winning the Super Bowl has been a tradition. However, certain Philadelphia Eagles players will not be taking part in the team’s visit to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. after their championship win this year.
Since Donald Trump took office as president last January, the president and NFL players have not necessarily seen eye to eye. While players knelt during the national anthem to protest police brutality and shootings last fall, Trump flipped the script to fit his own narrative, saying that players who kneel for the anthem were disrespecting the flag. In reality, none of the players kneeling intended to disrespect the flag or the men or women who serve this country.
The president also did not help himself in the eyes of NFL players back in late September, referring to players who kneeled for the anthem as “sons of b——,” urging NFL owners to get anyone who kneeled off the field. In response to those words, almost every player from all 32 NFL teams took part in some sort of protest against the president that weekend.
The latest protest against Trump comes courtesy of Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, wide receiver Torrey Smith and defensive end Chris Long, who have all turned down invitations to the White House.
It comes as no surprise that these three players were the ones to decline a trip to our nation’s capital, as they told CNN. Jenkins, Smith and Long are all actively involved in the Player Coalition, an organization partnered with the NFL to deal with criminal justice reform, law enforcement relations with the community and education.
The trio also paid a visit to Pennsylvania state legislators during the season to discuss bills involving criminal justice reform. Jenkins, Smith, and Long are not a group declining an invitation because they want attention – they are declining with a purpose.
“It’s not about politics, I just don’t think the president is a good person,” Smith said, according to CNN. “I don’t want to go out of my way to go see someone who isn’t even welcoming the men in this locker room and our different cultures.”
For Jenkins, since the visit to the White House does not include the chance to make a change, he views it as nothing more than a photo op.
“Over the last two years, I’ve been meeting with legislators, both Republican and Democrat, it don’t matter,” Jenkins said. “If you want to meet to talk about the events in my community, changing the country, I’m all for that. But this isn’t one of those meetings, so I’ll opt out of the photo opportunity.”
NFL players want to make a change and Jenkins is a prime example of that. Players are not protesting for no reason, as Trump apparently believes. Until he realizes this, relations between NFL players and the president are never going to improve.
The president looks down upon NFL players, so why should they give him respect in return? They are doing what they can to make an impact, while Trump takes to Twitter to bash them as if he is a high schooler.
Some players are united when it comes to their dislike of Trump, and while some might dislike the president more than others, a large majority of the league has a disdain for the man in the Oval Office.
Until Trump can find common ground with these players and show respect for what they are trying to accomplish, things will never get better.
Tyler Calvaruso is a journalism major from Howell, N.J. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @tyler_calvaruso.