Eagles' Malcolm Jenkins joins Chris Long and Torrey Smith in skipping White House visit

Washington Post

Malcolm Jenkins and Chris Long shared a kinship that went beyond the fact that they were teammates on the Philadelphia Eagles' defense.

One of the leaders of the national anthem player demonstrations, Jenkins was joined by Long, who stood with an arm on Jenkins's shoulder as he sought to raise awareness of social injustice and police brutality.

Last week, it was no surprise that Long said he would not be visiting the White House if the Eagles were to win the Super Bowl and, on Monday, Jenkins joined him in passing up the visit with President Donald Trump, who was critical of NFL players and called for owners to fire any "son of a bitch" who protested by taking a knee or remaining seated.

"I personally do not anticipate attending that," Jenkins told CNN's "New Day" hours after the visit became a reality with the Eagles' 41-33 victory over the Patriots.

"I don't have a message for the president. My message has been clear all year. I'm about creating positive change in the communities that I come from. ... 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 our law enforcement be advanced.

"That's what myself and my peers have been pushing for for the last two years, and that's what I'll continue to do."

Jenkins has been more than a voice in the demonstrations; he has been one of the players putting in time as a leader of the Players Coalition, which sought to find ways to work with NFL owners to convert activism to action.

Trump, who released a pregame statement Sunday urging players to "proudly stand for the anthem," congratulated the Eagles after their victory.

Long, who was stirred by violence in his Charlottesville, Virginia hometown to donate his 2017 salary to educational charities, said, "Are you kidding me?" when asked on the "Pardon My Take" podcast if he would visit the White House. Long had the chance to visit last year, when he played for the Patriots' Super Bowl 51-winning team and declined then, too. In an April video looking back at the Patriots' comeback win over the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl, Long said, "[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 stood by Jenkins as he raised a fist during the anthem. "If you don't see why you need allies for people that are fighting for equality right now, I don't think you'll ever see it," Long said in August. "So my thing is, Malcolm is a leader, and I'm here to show support as a white athlete."

Smith, who called Trump "the most divisive person in this entire country" in a since-deleted tweet last fall, told reporters last week that he would skip the White House visit. "They call it the anthem protest," he said. "We're not protesting the anthem. It's a protest during the anthem."

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