Several Philadelphia Eagles players have said they are planning on skipping the team’s visit to the White House in a few months.
Defensive end Chris Long, wide receiver Torrey Smith and safety Malcolm Jenkins are among the players who have planned to opt out of the reception held by President Donald Trump, NJ.com reports.
“They call it the anthem protest,” Smith said last week. “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.”
Trump has repeatedly criticized players who decide to kneel during the national anthem.
“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,” Smith continued. “I understand why some people are offended by it. Also, there are soldiers that have issues going on right now, and they are things that affect them. They’re things that affect my father. He understands both sides of the issue.”
Long, who also skipped last year’s White House visit as a member of the New England Patriots, said he doesn’t want his children to be influenced by Trump’s actions.
“No,” Long said last week during Barstool Sports’ “Pardon My Take” podcast. “I’m not going to the White House. Are you kidding me?”
Chris Long gave his paychecks from the first six games of the NFL season to fund scholarships in Charlottesville, VA. He wanted to do more, so he decided to give away an entire season’s salary. That’s a story from 2017. https://t.co/NL0RoARkan
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) December 29, 2017
Long received attention from former President Barack Obama for donating his entire 2017 salary to help fund scholarships in Charlottesville, Virginia.
To fill the spots of those who choose not to attend, meanwhile, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway told a Philadelphia radio host she’ll invite veterans.