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02/05/2018 04:27 am ET Updated Feb 05, 2018

Several Eagles Players Already Planning To Skip White House Visit

At least three players say they won't go, if invited.

Several members of Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles have said they will not visit the White House if invited by President Donald Trump

Wide receiver Torrey Smith, defensive end Chris Long and safety Malcolm Jenkins have all said they won’t be going, NJ.com reported.

Jenkins said during an appearance Monday on CNN’s “New Day” that he does “not anticipate” attending the White House celebration. 

“My message has been clear all year,” Jenkins said. “I’m about, you know, 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,” he continued. “I want to see us push for ... [economic] and educational advancement in communities of color and low-income communities. And I want to see our relationships between our communities and our law enforcement be advanced.”

Several members of last year’s championship team, the New England Patriots, also refused to attend a White House ceremony in order to protest Trump’s policies. Since then, relations between the president and NFL players have only worsened.

In recent months, Trump has urged the league to fire or suspend players who took a knee during the national anthem in order protest racial inequality and police brutality.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he’s fired?’” Trump said during a speech in Alabama in September. 

After Trump’s speech, more players began kneeling during the national anthem. He continued to slam their actions on Twitter and in speeches, and even raised the issue ― without mentioning the NFL specifically ― during his State of the Union address.  

But players insist that they’re demonstrating to bring attention to important issues, not to disrespect the flag or the anthem.  

“They call it the anthem protest,” Smith told NJ.com. “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.”

Long made his intentions clear in a podcast interview last week.

“No, I’m not going to the White House,” he told the “Pardon My Take” podcast. “Are you kidding me?”

Long was on the Super Bowl-winning New England Patriots last season and was among several players who declined the White House visit. 

“[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 said, according to the Washington Post. 

Eagles running back LeGarrette Blount also skipped the visit last year when he was a member of the Patriots. Although he hasn’t announced his intentions this year, Blount expressed strong feelings last time around. 

I just don’t feel welcome into that house,” Blount said at the time. “I’m just gonna leave it at that.”

Last year Trump withdrew his White House invitation to the NBA champion Golden State Warriors after two-time MVP Steph Curry said he didn’t want to go. 

Hayley Miller contributed reporting.

This article has been updated to include Malcolm Jenkins’ comments.

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