The long-standing tradition of having the champions of the Super Bowl visit the White House for a congratulatory meet and greet with the president is in question at the moment as no word on an impending Oval Office trip has been announced by either the Trump administration or the management of the NFL victors the Philadelphia Eagles, according to an article today in The New York Times.
Typically such visits are scheduled for March or April when the league is not in season and players aren’t too tied up with practice scrimmages and conflicting travel itineraries, but sometimes teams wait until they are already set to visit Washington DC to play the Redskins during the regular season.
The lack of any formal announcement beyond a statement of future intent from the White House has led many observers to think that members of the team and its liberal owner, Jeffrey Lurie, may not be so anxious to be photographed playing chummy with a commander-in-chief they don’t respect, particularly after Trump’s brutal attacks on NFL players who stood by their consciences by taking the knee during the playing of the national anthem to protest social injustice, especially police violence against people of color.
Immediately after the Eagles dramatically defeated the New England Patriots in the 2018 Super Bowl, several key players including safety Malcolm Jenkins, defensive lineman Chris Long and wide receiver Torrey Smith, said that they had no intention of accepting a White House invitation.
Smith went so far as to provide CNN with the cogent reasoning behind his decision, explaining that he would not attend a party thrown by someone who insulted his friends or behaved in a racist or sexist manner.
“So why is it any different when this person has the title of President of United States?” the wide receiver said. “It’s really that simple to me. I don’t think it’s really something that I personally feel inclined to be involved with.”
Smith indicated that there were “plenty of guys who said they do not plan on going” to any White House event, and, indeed, two Eagles members who had also played for the previous year’s Super Bowl champions, the rival Patriots, LeGarrette Blount and Chris Long, did not go to that team’s presidential meet and greet.
While the Eagles players have been expressing why they might be reluctant to legitimize this administration with their presence, one has to wonder how President Trump, who has been obsessed with the political leanings of the FBI agents working on the investigation into Russian election meddling, will react to an NFL team owner who contributed to his nemesis Hillary Clinton’s campaign and who made this quote at an NFL owners meeting:
“Many of us have no interest in supporting President Trump,” Mr. Lurie said, according to a recording of the meeting obtained by The New York Times. “Yes, there are some. There are some players who do, too.”
“But this is not where you brandish a group of people because they own assets in a sport we love, supporting what many of us perceive as, you know, one disastrous presidency,” he said, using a vulgarity to emphasize “disastrous,” then adding: “Don’t quote me.”
Still, the White House is acting like everything is business as usual, or as usual as it gets in the Trump administration, with press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying;
“We have been in conversations with the Eagles about timing and are working with them to make it happen. We hope to have something finalized in the next couple of weeks.”
Stay tuned to see whether the visit ever actually gets scheduled and, if so, if the Eagles can muster up a roster for the visit big enough to make for a credible photo-op.
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