Three celebrating Philly team members to skip visit to Trump
Philadelphia Eagles fans celebrate the team's victory in NFL Super Bowl 52 between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots, Monday, Feb. 5, 2018, in downtown Philadelphia. | Matt Rourke/AP

As the City of Brotherly Love celebrates their Super Bowl 52 champions, the Eagles, this morning with a festive street parade—compared to the riotous Sunday night—I’m celebrating for a different reason: This Philly team was at the center of the 2017’s protests staged during the national anthem against police brutality, mass incarceration, and the president.

They held their line, pushed back and showed the world that professional athletes can focus on two things at once: fighting injustice and winning games.

I’m also celebrating because three players will be skipping the traditional White House visit that comes after a Super Bowl win.

Those Eagles players are:

Malcom Jenkins: Eagles safety and players coalition—a group of players who negotiated with the league to address concerns of the protests— leader, who raised his fist during the anthem. “Nah, I personally do not anticipate attending,” said Jenkins on CNN’s New Day. “My message has been clear all year … I want to see changes in our criminal justice system. I want to see us push for economical and educational advancement in communities of color and low-income communities. And I want to see our relationship between our communities and our law enforcement be advanced.”

Chris Long: Eagles defensive end and outspoken supporter of the NFL’s social justice movement, who donated his game checks to fund scholarships in his hometown of Charlottesville, Va., where neo-nazis marched, said:

“No, I’m not going to the White House…are you kidding me? “When my son grows up — and I believe the legacy of our president is going to be what it is — I don’t want him to say, ‘Hey dad, why’d you go when you knew the right thing was to not go.”

Torrey Smith: Eagles wide receiver said long before the Eagles won the Super Bowl that he wouldn’t visit the White House:

“They call it the anthem protest. We’re not protesting the anthem,” he said, ““For me, it’s not just about politics…this isn’t something that I personally feel inclined to be involved with…I respect the office, but often times we hold our athletes and entertainers to higher standards than we hold the President of the United States. To me it’s about doing the right thing, it’s not about choosing sides or anything, it’s simply about right and wrong.”

I’ll admit though, in previous years the thought of players skipping a White House visit would have been a tiny blip on the news radar. But, this is Trump we’re talking about. His supporters who think, “it’s great he speaks his mind without being politically correct’’—code for “he’s racist just like me”—will be furious by such an act of disrespect towards the president.

For those on the other side I say, guess what, this isn’t the first time players have skipped a visit and where was your outrage then?

Tom Brady skipped the White House visit when Barack Obama was living at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.,— not to mention Brady’s, Belechick’s and Kraft’s complicated friendship with Trump. Matt Birk skipped after the Ravens won the Super Bowl. Birk explained that his absence was due to his opposition to Obama’s  pro-choice policies. Manny Ramirez of the Boston Red Sox didn’t go when George W. Bush was in office, and three players from the 1972 Miami Dolphins swore not to go after President Obama honored the team in 2013—Maybe it’s not the office but the person inside.

One former Dolphins player said: “I want to be careful, because mom said if you have nothing good to say about someone, then don’t say anything. I don’t have anything good to say about someone.”

So the idea that Eagles players are disrespecting Trump is nothing but self-delusion—similar to the headlines calling the destruction of Philadelphia a “celebration.”

I won’t say much on the riots and property destruction, there is plenty of video for you to see. I will say this though: Take a good look at Sunday night in Philadelphia and any other night where Black activists have taken to the streets.

Hopefully, you will see the hypocrisy of “law and order.”

While Eagles fans turned over cars, started fires, destroyed public and private property, police where right there, watching—some even joining the celebrations. Compare that to the riot police that show up ready to brutalize and tear gas activists who take the streets calling for an end to the killing of black lives by law enforcement.

I guess chanting “Black Lives Matter” is more of a threat to police than violently drunk sports fans tearing their city apart.

Who would have thought.


Al Neal
Al Neal

Award winning journalist Al Neal is PW associate editor for labor and politics. He is also the chief photographer for People's World. He is a member of the Chicago News Guild, Society of Professional Journalists, Professional Photographers of America, National Sports Media Association, and The Ernest Brooks Foundation.