Team captain Malcolm Jenkins, a defensive back who has been an outspoken critic of President Trump, and defensive end Chris Long, a former Virginia star and another outspoken critic who donated his season’s salary to charitable causes, have both made clear their intentions to decline a potential White House invitation.
“I don’t have a message for the president,” Jenkins said earlier this week, during his own appearance on CNN. “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 the last two years, and that’s what I’ll continue to do.”
Jenkins raised his fist during the national anthem throughout the 2016 season and into November of this past season to protest police violence and economic inequality. The 30-year-old, a leader of the Players Coalition, stopped 12 games into the season after the NFL pledged to donate $89 million to players’ community-activism endeavors.
Smith said before the Super Bowl that he would not visit the White House if the opportunity arose. Running back LeGarrette Blount also said he would not attend a presidential victory celebration. Blount, like Long, passed on the invitation last year as a member of the New England Patriots.
“I just don’t feel welcome into that house,” Blount said at the time.
Smith said on CNN that Trump’s attacks on women, minorities and NFL players have made him feel like he “wouldn’t want to go to that party.”
“For me, it’s not just about politics,” he told Lemon.
“If I told you that I was invited to a party by an individual I believe is sexist, or has no respect for women, or I told you that this individual has said offensive things toward many minority groups and I don’t feel comfortable about it — this individual also called my peers and my friends SOBs — you would understand why I wouldn’t want to go to that party,” Smith said. “Why is it any different when the person has the title of president of the United States? It’s really that simple to me. I don’t think it’s something that I personally feel inclined to be involved with.”
Responding to a question on Twitter earlier this week, Smith wrote that his decision “goes beyond politics,” writing “I don’t think [Trump] is a good person.”
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