A key member of the Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl championship team, safety Malcolm Jenkins says he doesn’t plan on making the traditional trip to the White House.
Jenkins joined CNN the morning after the 41-33 victory over the favored New England Patriots, who were seeking a repeat championship. While Jenkins was one of the NFL’s players who actively protested against police brutality and social injustice, he decided during the season to stop demonstrating prior to games.
President Trump has been a harsh critic of players who have taken a knee during the playing of the national anthem, often equating such protests to being unpatriotic and slaps in the face to those who serve and have served in the armed forces. He even made reference to the importance of standing for the national anthem, although without naming the NFL, during his State of the Union speech last week that preceded the Super Bowl, and he then released a statement mentioning it on Super Bowl Sunday.
Jenkins, though, said his desire to skip the team’s White House visit wasn’t about sending a message to the president.
“I don’t have a message for the president. My message has been clear all year,” Jenkins told CNN. “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.”
“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 relationships between our communities and law enforcement be advanced,” Jenkins told CNN.
“That’s what myself and my peers have been pushing for, for the last two years. That’s what I will continue to do,” Jenkins said.
He isn’t alone in saying he won’t go to the White House. Eagles defensive end Chris Long, a member of the New England Patriots last season when they won the Super Bowl, declined that trip to the White House and said the decision to was an easy one for him to make.
“[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 [to the White House] when you knew the right thing was to not go?’” Long, a white player, said.
He made it clear prior to this Super Bowl that he would again skip the trip if the Eagles won.
“No, I’m not going to the White House,” he said on the podcast “Pardon My Take.” “Are you kidding me?”
Wide receiver Torrey Smith, has previously taken part in national anthem protests and spoken against Trump’s attacks on demonstrating players, according to CNN, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he skipped the White House visit. Running back LeGarrette Blount also won the Super Bowl last year as a member of the Patriots and declined to visit the White House for that championship, so it’s likely he will again refuse to meet with Trump.